Midori to Receive Kennedy Center Honor in Recognition of Lifetime Artistic Achievement

Midori has been chosen as a recipient of the 43rd Kennedy Center Honors. The other honorees are Debbie Allen, Joan Baez, Garth Brooks and Dick Van Dyke.

“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”

Acknowledging the honor from the United States’s National Cultural Center, Midori said, “Artists have a singular responsibility, through our work and deeds, to echo and mirror our society and serve its needs. As a new chapter of life is about to begin for all of us, I especially feel the current moment’s necessities and opportunities to explore a spring of new and preserved energies and discoveries, to play my part in seeking various avenues and forms of creativity and recovery. 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. I wish to accomplish much going forward. 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 a 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.”

The 2020 Kennedy Center Honors ceremony, traditionally held in December, was postponed until May 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter said, “2020 has shined a bright light on the impact of how art and culture speaks to our collective human experience. It can meet us at any moment—and sustain us during the most challenging days. Each of the 43rd Kennedy Center Honorees and their work continues to speak to American culture and our national fortitude. We are thrilled to be able to fete these cultural icons in a time where the world and the nation needs the arts more than ever.”

For an article announcing this year’s awards, Midori told The New York Times that the pandemic had given her a renewed sense of appreciation for performing in front of an audience: “It made me realize how precious the moments of being able to do things live are.”

The Honors recipients are confirmed by the Executive Committee of the Kennedy Center’s Board of Trustees in recognition of their contributions to American culture through the performing arts. An Honoree medallion ceremony for the Honorees and a limited audience will be hosted by the Kennedy Center during the week of May 17–22. The Honors Gala will be recorded for broadcast in the United States on CBS television as a two-hour primetime special on June 6, 9 p.m. ET.

A Greeting from Midori

Dear Friends,

We are at the end of an incredibly challenging year. In 2020 there have been so many tragic losses – of lives, of the stuff of life. Through the pandemic’s ravages, so many careers, businesses and institutions have been threatened or badly damaged. I do not know of anyone who has not somehow been affected by all of this. Beyond this year’s immediate health crisis, we continued to face violent greed and brutality, injustices and inequalities, as well as all manner of natural disasters.

Under these conditions, can we have hope for our future, for this world our children will inherit? Can we truly make sense of what has happened and can we learn from it?

In the face of all of this, I find reason for some optimism. I never forget that throughout history, humans have demonstrated resilience as well as destructiveness. We find reserves of moral strength within ourselves. We retain the capacity for coming together, in powerful, regenerative ways.

I believe that it is such togetherness, and our love and respect for others, which will help us override the world’s current crises. In my own case, in recent months I did experience some positiveness, and that kept me from losing faith in this life and world. It was certainly frustrating to be mostly limited to online connections with the people in my life — but through that, real warmth did come through from time to time, and I have never been more encouraged.

I hope that we will start a period of recovery in 2021. Along the way, I hope that we will have learned from all we have been through, leading to increasing mutual understanding and care. I look forward to a world which offers the possibility of people making meaningful connections among each other.

Midori

For an animated Season’s Greeting from Midori, please click here

 

FROM MIDORI – JULY 2020

Dear Friends,

I hope the uncertain situation we are living under has not impacted us in only negative ways. While I find the current circumstances to be challenging, I am doing my best to protect myself and others, to be as productive as possible, and to participate consciously in my community.

Much of our attention is inevitably drawn to the repercussions of COVID; yet there are other events, both positive and negative, taking place in the world, including circumstances that cry out for our attention such as the long-term effects of global warming, for example, and the historical and more recent inequalities in communities that hinder progress and cast a shadow over our achievements.

In the last few months, my style of living, like that of so many others, has been forced to change drastically–or at least has been put on hold–which has given me many moments for reflection and re-evaluation. I have also had the time to tackle – and in some cases complete – projects that in my pre-pandemic life precluded my attention. I hope some of the fruits of this period will be ready to bloom once the pandemic, or the worst effects of the pandemic, are behind us.

Let us keep alive the determination to work towards our future. We must persevere to find meaning in the new norm and in the recent past. In the midst of all this, I am thankful for those who  give of themselves tirelessly to keep us safe, remind us that the time we have lost has been neither wasted nor unmeaningful, and appeal to us all to play our parts in shaping the world to come.

Midori

FROM MIDORI – APRIL 2020

Dear Friends,

In this time of great uncertainty and continuing unnerving news, I write to you from New York, where I have been sheltering-in-place for close to a month.

We are confronted daily by insurmountable news that assaults our psyches and corrodes our confidence in the world and in ourselves. Our thoughts go out to the medical personnel who, along with the heavily afflicted, are the warriors of this pandemic. We want them to know that we care and are concerned for their wellbeing, as we are about the many who have lost their jobs and their livelihoods. Our sympathy goes out to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives to this virus.

It is indeed a very strange feeling to be trapped and confronted by an invisible enemy. As I advocate good essential habits of Staying Put, Washing Hands Thoroughly, and Social Distancing, I also wonder how sane I can continue to be, my lifestyle having changed so drastically and so suddenly, without much time to prepare psychologically or physically.

Nevertheless, I keep on practicing and playing music at home. For one day, we will surely enter a period of recovery. And at that time — whether for a child, an elderly or a bereaved person, for someone feeling neglected, lonely or despondent – or for someone who has recovered from the virus — I want to be ready, when they are, to play for them music forged in the souls of fellow human beings, music that has survived the tests of past historical atrocities.

Midori

January 2019

Dear Friends,
2018 was a year marked by transition. My move back to the East Coast, and to join the faculty at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, took place in early summer and, after almost 15 years in California, it turned out to be much more impacting than I had expected. The weather takes quite a bit of adjusting to and living in the Center City District of Philadelphia without a car presents its challenges and requires a different energy from living in Los Angeles. I am still getting used to the new set up and new rhythm, but am none-the-less enjoying the process of getting to know a new city.
Throughout last year, I enjoyed returning to cities, venues, and orchestras I knew to work with long-time colleagues as well as new ones. After 35+ years of touring, I am now comfortable almost everywhere, making new discoveries as well as rekindling old memories and relationships. In 2018, I also performed in several countries for the first time:  Paraguay, Estonia, Ukraine, and Ecuador.
A particularly meaningful trip last year was my visit with my USC students during our spring break to Sri Lanka, where we engaged ourselves in learning, teaching, giving-to-community, and performing inside and outside Colombo. The trip was our second out-of-LA venture, following a visit to Ensenada, Mexico, and its environs in 2017.
In the New Year, I look forward to a new project with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet in which we perform “almost” all French repertoire. New projects always bring surprises, and with these surprises, joy.
I wish you all a new year filled with musical inspiration.
Midori