Midori Gotō (五嶋 みどり, Gotō Midori) (born October 25, 1971), usually referred to simply as Midori, is a Japanese-born American violinist. She made her debut at the age of 11, when conductor Zubin Mehta added her to the program of the New York Philharmonic's New Year's Eve Gala in 1982. When she was 21, she established her first not-for-profit organization Midori and Friends to bring music education and opportunities to children in New York City and Japan. In 2007, she was appointed as a UN Messenger of Peace.
Midori was born in Osaka, Japan. She was first taught the violin by her mother, Setsu Gotō. Her mother discovered her daughter's innate musicality at the age of two, when she found Midori humming a Bach theme the mother had rehearsed a few days earlier. On Midori's third birthday, her grandmother gave her a 1/16 size violin, whereupon her mother began violin lessons.
Midori gave her first public performance at the age of six, playing one of the 24 Caprices of Paganini in her native Osaka. In 1982 her mother and she moved to New York City, where Midori started violin studies with Dorothy DeLay's studios at Juilliard Pre-College and the Aspen Music Festival and School. As her audition piece, Midori performed Bach's thirteen-minute-long Chaconne, generally considered one of the most difficult solo violin pieces ever written. In the same year, she made her concert debut with the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, a conductor with whom she would record many concertos on the Sony Classical label. In 1986 came her now legendary performance of Leonard Bernstein's Serenade at Tanglewood, during which she broke two E strings, first on her own instrument and then on concertmaster Malcolm Lowe's Stradivarius after she borrowed it. She finished the performance with associate concertmaster Max Hobart's Guadagnini, calmly thanking him afterward for allowing her to use it. Bernstein, who was also the conductor, knelt before her in awe. The next day The New York Times front page carried the headline "Girl, 14, Conquers Tanglewood with 3 Violins."
When Midori was 15, she left Juilliard Pre-College after four years . About five years later in 1992, she formed Midori and Friends, a non-profit organization that aims to bring quality music education and opportunities to children in New York City and in Japan. The Japanese program and its activities were taken over by Midori's Tokyo-based not-for-profit organization, Music Sharing, in 2002. In 2001, with the money Midori received from winning the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize, she started another organization called Partners in Performance. In subsequent years, Midori inaugurated two additional community-based projects, the Orchestra Residencies Program in the U.S., and International Community Engagement Program in Japan.
In addition to being named Artist of the Year by the Japanese government (1988) and the recipient of the 25th Suntory Music Award (1993), Midori has won the Avery Fisher Prize (2001), Musical America’s Instrumentalist of the Year award (2002), the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis (2002, 2003), the Kennedy Center Gold Medal in the Arts (2010), the Mellon Mentoring Award (2012), and the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum, for her "20-year devotion to community engagement work worldwide" (2012). In 2007 Midori was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 2012 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and awarded an honorary doctorate in music by Yale University. She is Distinguished Professor and Jascha Heifetz Chair at the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music.
In 2000, Midori graduated, magna cum laude, from the Gallatin School at New York University with a degree in psychology, and earned a master's degree in psychology from NYU in 2005. Previous to her current faculty position at USC's Thornton School of Music, she was on the faculty at the Manhattan School of Music. Midori has also served as a board member of the American String Teachers Association. Among her wide-ranging activities and appearances, in 2013 Midori was invited to the University of Oxford as Humanitas Visiting Professor in Classical Music and Music Education. Midori resides in Los Angeles, California.
In 2004, Midori joined the ranks of published authors with the release in Germany of a memoir titled Einfach Midori (Simply Midori), for the publisher Henschel Verlag. It was updated and reissued in German-speaking territories in 2012.
Midori plays on the 1734 Guarnerius del Gesù "ex-Huberman" violin. Her bows are made by Dominique Peccatte (two) and by François Peccatte (one).
Her brother Ryu is also a violinist.
- Bach/Vivaldi: Double Violin Concertos, Bach Concerto in D Minor, Concerto in E; Vivaldi Concerto in C Minor, Concerto in A Minor Op 3 No. 8; Philips 3/1986
- Paganini: 24 Caprices for Solo Violin, Op.1
- Bartók: Concerto No.1 for Violin and Orchestra, Op. Posth., Bartók: Concerto No.2 for Violin and Orchestra
- Midori "Live At Carnegie Hall"
- Dvořák: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in A minor, Op. 53, Dvořák: Romance in F minor for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 11, Dvořák: Carnival Overture, Op 92
- Sibelius: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D minor, Op. 47, Bruch: Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46
- Franck: Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major, Elgar: Sonata for Violin and Piano in E minor, Op. 82
- Tchaikovsky: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major, Op. 35, Shostakovich: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No.1 in A minor
- Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat Major, KV. 364/320d, Mozart: Concerto in D Major, KV. Anh. 56 (315f)
- Poulenc: Sonata for Violin and Piano, Debussy: Sonata in G Minor for Violin and Piano, Saint-Saëns: Sonata No.1 in D minor for Violin and Piano, Op. 75
- Midori's 20th Anniversary CD
- Mendelssohn: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in E minor, Op. 64, Bruch: Concerto No.1 for Violin and Orchestra in G Minor, Op. 26
- Bach/Bartók: Bach Sonata No. 2 in A minor BWV 1003, Bartók: Sonata No. 1 (with Robert McDonald)
- The Essential Midori
- Violin Sonatas of Bloch, Janáček and Shostakovich
- Hindemith Violin Concerto