By Anne H. Oman
March 25, 2021
When she was a toddler in Osaka, Japan, Midori Goto slept in the front row of the auditorium where her mother, a concert violinist, rehearsed. At the age of two, she was humming a Bach concerto. On her third birthday, she received her first violin – 1/16th standard size.
On April 9, Midori, who is one of this year’s Kennedy Center Honorees, will take the stage at the Amelia Plantation Chapel with her 1734 Guarnerius del Gesu ‘ex-Huberman’ violin. She will play Claude Debussy’s Violin Sonata in G Minor, L.140, which she describes as “a superb balance of sweetness, fire, humor, and nostalgia,”; Cesar Franck’s Violin Sonata in A Major, described in her program notes as “filled with beauty, excitement, imagination, poignancy, and drama,” and the Violin Sonata No. 24 in F Major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was, like herself, a child superstar.
The concert is part of the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, now in its 20th season.
“Looking back over the past twenty years, I marvel at the host of spectacular musicians who have performed here for our Festival,” said Emma Bledsoe, President of the Board of AICMF. “Now more than ever we appreciate the ability to make not only musical connections but meaningful connections with others. That’s why I’m so excited about Midori’s concert. Artist, teacher, activist and one of this year’s Kennedy Center honorees, she embodies the connections of hope and joy not only in the musical world, but in our world today.”
This year’s Kennedy Center Honorees – the American equivalent of Japan’s National Treasures – also include choreographer Debbie Allen, singer-songwriter Joan Baez, country star Garth Brooks, and actor Dick Van Dyke. The ceremony recognizing this 43rd class of honored artists will air June 6 on CBS.
Previous honorees who have performed at the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival are Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman.
“The Kennedy Center Honors serves as a moment to celebrate the remarkable artists who have spent their lives elevating the cultural history of our nation and world,” said Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. “With an international presence for over 35 years, violinist Midori combines graceful precision and expression for performances building connections between art and the human experience.”
Building connections has been a driving force in the life of this artist. Her non-profit organization, Midori & Friends, brings music programs to students in New York City schools who would otherwise have no or little access to the arts. To date, the programs have reached some 476,000 children in grades Pre-K through 12. She also founded and runs Music Sharing, which brings both classical western and traditional Japanese music to schools, institutions and hospitals. For her work, she has been recognized as a United Nations Messenger of Peace.
Midori believes that artists have a duty to serve the world community.
Acknowledging the Kennedy Center honor, she said:
“Artists have a singular responsibility, through our work and deeds, to echo and mirror our society and serve its needs . . . From an early age, I have been gifted with extraordinary experiences. I consider them to be my treasure and fortune that I might now draw upon my . . .plans are to be making music again, in both pioneering and traditional ways, to sing out and to stir what lies within us, to describe mysteries of the heart and of the mind. So, in the spirit of peace and connectivity through this country and the world, I am thrilled to be the recipient of one of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors, as we, together, reach toward renewed expression of the dreams and hopes that unify us all.”
Born in Osaka in 1971, Midori, who uses only her first name, performed with the New York Philharmonic at the age of 11, at the invitation of conductor Zubin Mehta. At 14, she performed with Leonard Bernstein at Tanglewood. She made her Carnegie Hall debut at 18. Since then, she has performed with, among others, the London, Chicago and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras, the Sinfonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.
The April 9 event, in which she will be accompanied by acclaimed Lithuanian pianist Ieva Jokybaviciute, will mark her first performance with the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival.
Tickets for Midori’s performance may be purchased at www.aicmf.com or through the box office at 904-261-1779.