Classical Coup

Iconic classical musician joins Omaha Symphony Sometimes a talent is so incredible, so iconic, it needs only one name for worldwide recognition — Cher, Madonna, Sting, Gallagher (um, maybe not that last one). In the word of classical music, that one-name icon is Midori, a violin virtuoso who, at age 11 she was a special guest soloist for the New York Philharmonic’s New Year’s Eve concert. She received a standing ovation. Midori, now 38, was born in Osaka, Japan, and studied violin with her mother. She tours heavily, teaches full time at the University of Southern California and runs several community outreach programs — a way of life that seems to come naturally to her. “My community engagement work is a natural outcome of my childhood and the environment in which I was raised,” she said via email. “Those around me had a drive and passion for education and they were committed to not only sharing their work with others, but also dedicating their outcomes and consequential rewards to the communities. In our family, the process of exploring and working itself is discipline and pleasure, and the desire to share music with others is an instinctive one.” She founded her first charitable program in 1992. Midori & Friends provides music education to underserved children in New York City public schools. Currently, Midori & Friends works with about 40 NYC public schools, from elementary to high school. Midori created Partners in Performance in 2001 to co-present chamber music concerts in an effort to stimulate interest in classical music, especially in smaller, rural communities. Three years later, she started the Orchestra Residencies Program, which supports youth orchestras. One of the beneficiaries of the upcoming season will be the Quad City Symphony and Youth Symphony Orchestras in Davenport, Iowa. Her fourth community outreach program is Music Sharing. Based in her native Japan, the goal is to augment the Japanese music curriculum by bringing Western classical music and traditional Japanese music to young people. “All of my projects originate from the simple wish of bringing people together through music,” she said of her philanthropy, “and I am grateful to have several different facets through which I strive to meet this goal. Whether through music education with Midori & Friends; performing for and with young people in Asia through Music Sharing; bringing chamber music to smaller communities through Partners in Performance; working with youth orchestras in a residency, and so on, each activity uses music as a vehicle to draw individuals together in a common goal.” Don’t forget, she does all of that while performing over 100 concerts a year and teaching full-time at USC. Midori is able to handle everything on her plate with an incredibly graceful and positive attitude. “I regularly perform 100-plus concerts each year, and although I appreciate that my schedule seems overloaded with activities, I rarely feel pressure from my projects. I am happily motivated and engaged in all I get to do. Everything I do is born of a genuine desire to do so. Each of my different endeavors, from professional engagements, teaching full-time at USC, community-related activities, and so on, motivate me and inspire each other, and I am incredibly grateful to be able to do all of these activities.” Amid all of her endeavors, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that she’s still one of the most talented and popular violinists in the world. The Omaha Symphony welcomes her this weekend to perform the Sibelius Violin Concerto. The Omaha Symphony will present two other pieces, with Midori’s performance in the middle. Midori plays w/ the Omaha Symphony, Sept. 24-25, 8 p.m., at the Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Tickets are $18-$78, available at omahasymphony.org or by calling 345.0606.

posted at 12:10 pm
on Friday, September 24th, 2010

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