Midori Astonishes Cincinnati...Again - 2000
Shared by WCPO.com Web produced and written by: Peter Kasprzycki
3/23/00 6:35:21 PM
Cincinnati welcomes Midori for a series of concerts this weekend with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Maestro Jesús López-Cobos conducting. This is not the first time our audiences will be able to enjoy her charm and virtuosity.
In February 1999, Midori stopped briefly in Cincinnati for a chamber music concert. Her last appearance with the CSO was in 1997 when she played the First Violin Concerto by Shostakovich.
In Beethoven's Violin Concerto, which is in the program of this weekend's concerts, Midori plays the first movement with gentleness and unfulfilled yearning. Her interpretation is so touching that one has to pause and contemplate the magnitude of the moment. The sound is rich and full. The spirit of the music seems to shelter us from the worries of everyday life. This music composed almost two centuries ago and played on an instrument of equal age communicates incredible relevance and tearful emotion. We, mortal vessels, are faced with the work universal and timeless. And such is the reflection on Midori's performance.
In the opening measures of the last movement, she reaches beauty and confidence. The sound builds up in strength, jumping between light and darkness, peace and sparks of turbulence or almost fury.
On Personal Life
PK: Being in such a great demand, how do you balance your personal and professional life?
Midori: "It is necessary and important for all of us to have a balance between a professional and a personal life, and it is a great challenge!
Usually I give about sixty concerts each season between September and May, and these are divided between appearances with orchestras or in recitals with my pianist partner, Robert McDonald.
As I travel so much, I do cherish the time I am at home in New York. While on the road, I write letters (the old-fashioned way and talk on the phone with friends.
Sometimes, I am lucky and find old friends who have relocated to wherever I might be performing, always a wonderful surprise."
"Because my interests extend beyond music, I can always keep my life intellectually adventuresome and dive into various current projects, therefore giving me a better mix of things in my life. I do not perform in the summer but keep that time to do whatever i want. I have spent several summers playing chamber music, volunteering, or going to summer school."
PK: What music do you enjoy the most?
Midori: "Music making, for the most part is a collaborative effort and is based on communication. I enjoy working with all those with whom I can share a collegiality of working toward a specific musical goal. I listen to many different kinds of music. In the non-classical, I enjoy jazz, folk music and Gospel. Within classical music, I love listening to pianists as well as vocalists. I also enjoy guitar music."
PK: What do you do to relax?
Midori: "I enjoy going to the theater and reading such authors as Willa Cather, Somerset Maugham, E.M. Forster, Wallace Stegner and Alan Paton.
Something else which has been a support on tour is having my books and college assignments with me. I am a student at New york University with full academic schedule, and plan to enter graduate school next year. The experience is fulfilling and challenging, and I love it all."
"Another project I am deeply committed to is a Foundation I began some eight years ago, a young vital organization, called Midori & Friends, dedicated to bringing music into children's lives. We take music to the schools through performances, instrument instruction, and general classroom music teaching."
On Professional Life
PK: How did you start your career in music?
Midori: "My music debut was at age eleven. I performed with the New york Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta at their New Year's Eve concert. My Carnegie Hall debut took place on my eighteenth birthday-and that is all I remember about it!
I do not feel that a concert is unique in its time and space. It is not the hall that makes the music, rather it is the communication that gives meaning to a performance. However, I must note that the hoopla tossed around me by everyone before concerts at Carnegie is always worth an observation!"
PK: This weekend concerto has a difficult opening passage in its final movement. You have also performed this piece of music probably hundreds of times. What challenges are you facing playing it?
Midori: "Of course, the Beethoven Violin Concerto is the ultimate violin concerto. It is an enriching experience to hear it, each time, again and again, as well as to perform it. Technical difficulties do pose a challenge, but it is the concept of the whole musical shape of this work that makes a tremendous difference. It could be extremely personal and individual piece, yet those of us who play it are confronted by long-standing tradition in which it is so firmly embedded. therefore, we must each find our own balance within it."
PK: This is not your first appearance with the CSO. What do you like the most about our orchestra?
Midori: "It will be lovely to be in Cincinnati again, it is a familiar and warm place. Last year, at the end of February, I came to Cincinnati with three musicians friends on our first chamber music tour. We played a Schubert trio and Brahams and Dvorak piano quartets. I have had the pleasure of being here with the Cincinnati Symphony quite a few times-the last was in 1997 and we played the Shostakovich First Concerto. The orchestra has warmth and deep colors."
On the Future
PK: Any new projects with the Midori & Friends Foundation?
Midori: "...Our work as the Foundation...is expanding all the time, and we are renewed and rewarded by the reactions of the students who re-affirm constantly my belief that music can make a difference in the lives of children everywhere."
PK: After the first performance of his violin concerto Beethoven wrote to the 14-year-old Franz Clement who played it: "Continue along the road on which you have already made such a fine and magnificent journey. Nature and art have combined to make a great artist of you. Follow them both and, never fear, you will reach greatness, the highest goal that an artist can desire in the world. All my good wishes for your happiness, dear child, and come back soon so that I can hear your clear, magnificent playing once again." What is your highest goal as an artist?
Midori: "...As an artist I try to be honest with my feelings and allow them to be expressed in music. And, as an artist and as human being, I will always be on a path of learning, evolving, and trying to find out what it means to live right, to be a "good" person. i am still trying to discover what it means and what it entails. To come as close as possible to that answer would be the ultimate success in my life. I feel the most important responsibility, and my first priority, is in being a human being. Being an artist is the second."
PK: Thank you for this wonderful exchange.
Born in Osaka, Japan, in 1971, Midori began studying the violin with her mother, Setsu Goto, at a very early age. In 1982, when Zubin Mehta first heard her play, he was so impressed that he invited her to be a surprise guest soloist at the New York Philharmonic's traditional New Year's Eve concert, an occasion on which she received a standing ovation and the impetus to begin her career.
As a violinist, she balances her career between recitals and appearances with the most prestigious symphonic ensembles in Europe, North America, and the Far East. Chamber music is another vital element of her activities. Last year, she begun her first chamber music tour. For several years now, Midori has spent summers at the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont. Together with her long-time recital partner Robert McDonald, she performed recent recitals in America, Japan, Hong Kong, and South America.
Her unique talents and lively personality have brought her recognition in the media and well-deserved popularity worldwide. On television she has appeared on such diverse programs as the 1992 Winter Olympic Games telecast, several CNN programs, and "Sesame Street" and "The Tonight Show," as well as in broadcasts for French, German, Japanese and British TV. She also participated in the salute to Nathan Milstein at the 1988 Kennedy Honors Gala with Pinchas Zukerman, in the gala concert from Tanglewood in honor of Leonard Bernstein's seventieth birthday, and in Carnegie Hall's gala 100th anniversary concert -- all of which were broadcast worldwide. Her 1990 Carnegie Hall debut was recorded live and is available on the Sony Classical label, for which she records exclusively.
Midori currently lives in New York City. She plays the 1734 Guarnerius del Gesu "ex-Hubermann" violin, which is on a lifetime loan to her from the Hayashibara Foundation.
In 1992, Midori established Midori & Friends (The Midori Foundation.) She talked about her involvement with the organization in our exclusive interview.
This non-profit organization, concentrated in select New York City public elementary schools, offers expanded teacher training, family concerts expressly for students and their parents, and an instrument lending/lesson program, which was recently reinforced by a grant from cable channel VH1 as part of its "Save the Music" national campaign. Midori not only participates in many of the programs herself, but has involved a number of other artists, from young ensembles to renowned soloists such as Emanuel Ax and Yefim Bronfman.
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