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Published: Friday, 4/8/2005

Midori continues her musical growth

BY STEVEN CORNELIUS
BLADE MUSIC CRITIC
Pianist Robert McDonald and violinist Midori will perform
Wednesday in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle. Pianist Robert McDonald and violinist Midori will perform Wednesday in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle.
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Few events have as firm a place in the lore of modern classical music performance as the 1982 New York Philharmonic debut of the diminutive 11-year-old Japanese violinist Midori. The nonprogrammed appearance of the Osaka-born child set the New Year's Eve Lincoln Center audience on fire, sparking a major career.

Unlike so many prodigies, Midori managed to hold the public's attention as she moved into adulthood.

She performs music of Mozart and others at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the final program of the Toledo Symphony's Toledo Museum of Art-based Peristyle Series.

Part of the reason for Midori's ongoing success might be that she has continued to develop an ever-widening range of interests. Her busy performance schedule, and the huge financial rewards that go with it, would satisfy many professionals. But that is just a part of her work and focus. In the late 1990s she decided to return to college to earn undergraduate degrees in psychology and gender studies from New York University. She then began graduate studies.

She is also deeply involved in educational outreach. Her New York City-based nonprofit organization Midori & Friends, which she founded in 1992, presents workshops and concerts to children who otherwise might have no access to classical music. This organization, and a similar one called Music Sharing that she has set up in Japan, follow Midori's own career directions by starting from the premise that musical understanding can enhance an individual's broader life.

In 2001, Midori initiated a program called Partners in Performance through which she goes to smaller communities off the normal circuit traveled by major soloists in order to give concerts and participate in other music-related events. Her idea is to raise awareness about chamber music by working at the grass-roots level.

Among Midori's many honors are an Avery Fisher Prize (2001) and Musical America's "Musician of the Year," awarded in 2002 on the 20th anniversary of her New York Philharmonic debut. She has appeared on TV shows ranging from Sesame Street to The Tonight Show.

Wednesday's recital features composers from Mozart to Szymanowski, including Robert Schumann's hefty Sonata in A, Op. 105 and Maurice Ravel's shimmering Sonata in G. An unusual repertoire choice is Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara's "Dithyrambos," a jagged three-minute finger twister written in 1970 for the Sibelius International Violin Competition of that year.

Violinist Midori and pianist Robert McDonald perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle. Tickets range from $25 to $48. Information: 419-246-8000.

Contact Steven Cornelius at:scornelius@theblade.com

or 419-724-6152.



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