World-famous violin player coming to Palladium stage
By Jay Harvey
An almost freakish incident of two broken strings in the course of one concert performance gave Midori a flash of acclaim in her early teens.
In 1986, Leonard Bernstein was conducting her at the Tanglewood Festival as soloist in his “Serenade” when she had the sudden twin misfortune. Immediately after the initial accident, Midori (she uses only her first name) made the customary turn to the concertmaster in order to continue. That borrowed instrument suffered the same bad luck as the performance proceeded, and the Japanese-born 14-year-old finished it playing on a third violin, again passed on to her by the first-chair first violinist.
What everyone remarked on at the time was her imperturbable elan in bringing off the performance. She won over everyone, including the astonished Bernstein, and the event made the front page of the New York Times. Yet there has been nothing ordinary about her career since, even without the sensationalism that briefly moved her name onto the news pages.
Those distinctions have included establishing several kinds of music-education programs. One of them gives exposure to music and direct training in underserved neighborhoods in Japan and the United States. It serves about 15,000 people annually in New York City. It is no one-off exposure to music, but a 26-week course.
Another venture, established on the basis of the lucrative Avery Fisher Award she won in 2001, is Partners in Performance, which is designed to stimulate interest in classical music in small cities. Proceeds from concerts by Midori and other eminent artists are used for support of community music organizations.
Then, a decade ago, she established a program to encourage American youth orchestras. Midori has performed with these orchestras and advocated for them offstage as well, using her prominence to strengthen their home viability. Several years ago, she took this initiative outside the United States, collaborating with orchestras in Costa Rica, Bulgaria and Peru.
Her core artistry continues into early middle age, complete with an academic anchor. She is entering her third year as professor at the University of Southern California, where she chairs the strings department.
If you want to hear how well Midori applies her technical wizardry to musical insight and understanding, you can’t do better than listen to this Carnegie Hall recital performance of Ravel’s “Tzigane” on YouTube. The pianist is Robert McDonald. She was 18 at the time, and already a veteran of the world’s concert stages, having made her professional debut at 11. The suspenseful energy and seemingly spontaneous rapport between Midori and McDonald are remarkable.
With pianist Ozgur Avdin, she will play a solo recital here including sonatas by Beethoven, Debussy, and Shostakovich, plus Schubert’s Rondo Brilliant in B minor.
Midori in concert ● Featuring a violin recital with pianist Ozgur Aydin ● 7 p.m. April 13 ● The Palladium in Carmel ● Tickets start at $20 ● For more information visit www.thecenterfortheperformingarts.org.