Midori is named Artistic Director of the Ravinia Steans Music Institute Piano & String Program

Ravinia has announced the appointment of esteemed violinist Midori as the Artistic Director of Ravinia Steans Music Institute’s Piano & Strings program, effective this fall to begin overseeing the 2024 summer season. Midori will succeed the acclaimed violinist Miriam Fried, who has held that position since 1994, following the tenures of the late Robert Mann (1988) and Walter Levin (1989–93).

About the new appointment, Midori said, “I am very much looking forward to being involved in RSMI in this new capacity. Working with young musicians has been central to my career, and this program is one of the most important of its kind in the music field. It has been led for the last 30 years by Miriam Fried, and I am honored to inherit her remarkable legacy as I lead the program forward in the coming years.”

As the Piano & Strings Artistic Director, Midori will lead young professional violinists, violists, cellists, pianists, and members of pre-existing chamber groups through immersive and intensive rehearsals and coachings with a rotating roster of some of the world’s finest teaching artists, including herself. The Program for Piano & Strings concentrates on interpretation and small-group collaboration through the practice and performance of classical sonata and chamber repertoire. The 2024 program takes place June 23 through July 24.

Working in close partnership with the Ravinia Steans Music Institute, Midori will strive to find new ways of engaging and advancing young professional musicians who view their experience at Ravinia as a critical part of their professional music careers as performers, educators, and artistic leaders.

Commenting on the next chapter of the renowned Piano & Strings Program, RSMI Director Alejandra Valarino Boyer said, “Midori’s renowned artistry and commitment to music education make her an excellent choice to lead the Piano & Strings Program. Her experiences as a performer, educator, and arts advocate will build on the legacy established by Miriam Fried to guide and mentor the next wave of classical musicians. We’re honored to have her join the Ravinia and Steans Music Institute team.”

Midori’s appointment comes as Fried prepares to welcome the 2023 cohort of Piano & Strings Program fellows for their June 19 – July 22 residency, Fried’s 30th and final season as director of the program. During her tenure, Fried trained numerous program alumni who have gone on to distinguished, often award-winning, careers and credit the Steans Music Institute and Fried as integral parts of their training and success.

“I would like to add my warmest welcome to Midori. In addition to her artistry, wisdom, and integrity, she brings her unending passion for music and the education of young people. The Steans Institute will be in wonderful hands,” Fried said.

Find out more about the Ravinia Steans Music Institute’s Program for Piano and Strings

Apply to join Midori for the International Community Engagement Program in Laos and Japan

Midori’s International Community Engagement Program (ICEP) is recruiting musicians for 2023 (Laos) and 2024 (Japan)

If you are a violinist, violist or cellist between the ages of 20 and 29 with a strong interest in community engagement activities, you may wish to apply to join Midori for the December 2023 ICEP in Laos and June 2024 follow-up in Japan.

One instrumentalist on each instrument will be selected through a competitive auditioning process to form a quartet with Midori that will offer presentations and performances at schools, orphanages, hospitals and various other facilities for youth and for the aged.

Since 2006, Midori has led ICEPs in Cambodia, Indonesia, Mongolia, Laos, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, India, and Vietnam

For more information about the International Community Engagement Program

For Application details  The deadline for applications is May 31, 2023.


Afghan National Institute of Music students and students of the Conservatory Calouste Gulbenkian take part in Midori’s International Orchestra Residencies Program

Midori’s latest International Orchestra Residencies Program (ORP) took place in Braga, Portugal in collaboration with the Conservatory Calouste Gulbenkian in late February and early March 2023.

Since 2022, the Conservatory has provided a home for the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM), whose students and faculty were evacuated after the Taliban assumed power in 2021.  The Taliban forbade non-religious music making in the country, took over the ANIM school and destroyed the music students’ instruments.

On March 5th, following two intense weeks of working with Midori, students from both the Conservatory and the Afghan Youth Orchestra took part in a concert.

The moving documentary “Symphony of Courage” tells the story of ANIM and of how its students and faculty were able to evacuate the country to continue their music education and to perform their music in an open society.

Read the UN Information Centre article UN Messenger of Peace: Midori’s artistic residency in Portugal with Afghan students and watch the interview with Midori about this project.

Read a feature article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: Leading Violinist Midori works with Young Musicians from Afghanistan (in German).


30th Anniversary Gala for Midori & Friends

On February 15th, Midori & Friends held a Gala celebrating three decades of providing tuition-free music education programs in New York City.

Midori & Friends is the first non-profit organization that Midori founded. She was just 21 years old.

Over the ensuing years, Midori & Friends has provided high-quality sequential music education in over 80 New York City schools and organizations to 300,000 students from Pre-Kindergarten to age 12 who had little or no previous access to the arts.

Read about Midori & Friends

Watch a video about Midori & Friends that was screened at the Gala


Brief notes on Sonatas and Partitas without Bass for Solo Violin by J. S. Bach

We find Johann Sebastian Bach in the year 1720 as Kapellmeister in the court of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen. A musician in early mid-career and much better known as an organist than as a composer, Bach busied himself during his six-year sojourn in Cöthen with writing some of his most important instrumental music (rather than the religious vocal compositions his work demanded in such profusion in other postings), while still performing the customary duties of a musical director in a secular court—playing, rehearsing, performing, and conducting—showing leadership as the head musician of the town. This period he spent in a relatively small town (centuries later to become a part of Communist East Germany, the town today with a population of approximately 30,000, its only claim to fame being it’s “Bach-rabilia”), must have allowed him a good balance of family life and work, and within the latter, the flexibility to write without the regular necessity to write for church services.

We know little of the history of the compositions said to be from this period, such as the solo Violin Sonatas and Partitas as well as the Cello Suites. We can well assume that they were first performed in Cöthen, most likely at court, by one of the court musicians. It is also possible though, that in the case of the solo Violin Sonatas and Partitas, Bach himself gave their first presentation, even though he may have played these works on a keyboard instead. That he was a good violinist is a known fact and is prominently documented by his son, Carl Philipp Emanuel. However, the richness and the fullness of their harmonies could, for their maximum effect, be much more successfully and easily executed on a keyboard rather than on a violin.

There is absolutely no record of the context in which the solo violin works were written, nor in what order they were composed, and modern thoughts on whether and how they were performed in the Cöthen years are mere speculation. In fact, while we believe them to have been composed in Cöthen, there is some reason to believe that Bach had already prepared these works while still in his previous post, in Weimar, and that 1720 was the year when he brought them together into a standard collection of six works. Unlike the Cello Suites, the manuscript autograph of these pieces, from Bach’s own hand, does exist–beautiful and elegant as well as meticulous–and it reminds this writer of yet another example of divinely inspired art whose glories seemingly transcend the capacities of any mere mortal soul, Caravaggio’s great painting in which the angel is guiding and dictating St. Matthew.

One wonders where Bach’s inspiration came from and how he must have felt after having completed such a brilliant output. These pieces are monumental achievements. They are masterpieces of composition, of course, but beside Bach’s brilliant innovations, they have a remarkable impact on each player and listener. At first hearing, the listener could be completely taken by the timelessness, the apparent contemporaneous feel, of each of these works, and in practicing them, one loses oneself in the passing of time. From a compositional perspective, the mastery of counterpoint and thematic writing has not lost its mystery; the perfection of the compositional techniques employed has superseded the passage of time. From all perspectives, these works are considered to be a pinnacle of compositional achievement. This is music that presents each listener and performer with an intense experience that cannot be replicated; requiring complete abandonment to the music and the workings of a mind so transcendent.

These compositions place huge organizational demands on a player, who is required to execute a multitude of voices, lines, melodies, counterpoint, and within all that convey the music’s character and impressions. At first, Bach’s individual line is simple, but then, when presented in multiple voices, complexities emerge, and it becomes the greatest of challenges to simultaneously render differing lines while retaining their underlying simplicity. A performer is required to carefully consider the organization of the left and right hands, remembering to pristinely present both the interlocking of musical lines as well as their independence from each other. The lines’ simultaneous independence and dependence of and with each other is at the core of these works. As a performer strives to simplify and organize the lines, that player’s ears and fingers are sharpened and trained, in the mental quest to present relationships between notes, lines, voices and sections that can be both coherent and/or in contrast with each other. Given the richness of Bach’s harmony as well as its purity, the greatest intonation accuracy is demanded, and anything less is blatantly distracting. The smoothness of the melodic line requires mastery of right hand technique, and complete control of its execution. This music requires more than just the possession of high-end technical skills; it demands a player’s coordination its many elements simultaneously, while handling them with both flair and seeming ease. And on top of all that, such technical virtuosity must largely be secondary to artistic priorities.

These pieces also present numerous interpretive challenges to a player. The main question is that of style. A Romantic reading of these works once predominated, with rubato, with wide vibrato, and “meaty” chordal executions a major element of many player’s interpretations. Some of the earliest extant recordings of the complete set are performed in this fashion. Since the renewed popularity and influence of Early Music presentation, the trend is perhaps moving in the direction of performances more in keeping with what we understand been the prevailing style during Bach’s lifetime. Some players go so far as to perform on instruments resembling those of the Baroque era, while others use only the Baroque bow while performing on “modern” instruments, or to use gut strings but with a “regular” or “modern” tuning. There are also those who make no visible modifications to their equipment, while still leaning in the direction of sound and interpretation that are closer to period instrument presentations, handling the instrument “as if” playing a period violin. There is no single “right” way to playing this music–conviction is the key. There is also a question of what to prioritize, what elements of this capacious music to bring to the fore (these choices being both technical and artistic, clearly). Because of the music’s many elements, its multiplicity of lines, plus demanding harmony and rhythms, a player must prioritize a particular element at certain times. For each performer, there are many decisions that must be made, both in planning and in “real-time,” during actual performance. These are issues to which do not lend themselves to one teachable “correct” answer or another, but they certainly need to be recognized and learned and internalized by each individual player. In the end, each performer must make well-informed choices. In truth, it seems to this performer that it is most important to honestly place this music in the context of a player’s life.

At the end of the day, these are some of the most beautiful pieces ever written. They are works that must be played with passion and not fear, that can be felt with hopefulness and not disappointment and hatred, and with adoration and respect. They are to be revered and played with a sense of love for their mysteries and glories, and not because a certain correctness is required. This is music that invokes compassion and has the capacity to reach the deepest and the most inner core of the each person’s soul. It is music that responds to each player’s individuality, reflecting that person’s inner life in ways that strikes a chord of recognition with another person, allowing both the player and listener the musical means for heightened self-examination. In this sense, each interpretation, in its elements that extend beyond learned aesthetics and academic presentation, is stemming from life itself, which is to say that every performance of these works will always be different, emphases and colorings and “meanings” constantly changing. This is indeed living music, that walks in concert with life’s movements.

When encountering such life-altering achievement, people often speak of “divine” inspiration, as though the work was a direct product of godly instruction. Still, this is music of human dimension. Bach was given to normal emotions, as we are aware of his frustrations in some career situations, and knowing of his huge family, we may imagine the demands such a home life placed on the man. He wrote the Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin in a town of no particularly great claim, and they have been played ever since by very human musicians for “normal” listeners. Yet amidst all this normalcy is the humbling beauty of this music, a gift we gratefully accept.


©Midori Goto, 2017

Midori’s Winter Season Greetings

In respect for and in solidarity with those wishing for and needing solace, my friend Charles Danziger, and I have created the following greeting — Midori




Warner Classics to release Midori’s recording of Beethoven sonatas with Jean-Yves Thibaudet

On November 9th, Midori’s complete Beethoven sonatas cycle with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet will be released digitally worldwide by Warner Classics.

The physical CD release will follow in January 2023.



The 2022-2023 season marks the 40th Anniversary of Midori’s professional debut, which took place on New Year’s Eve in 1982 with the New York Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta. She was 11 years old.

This season, Warner Classics will release a new recording of the complete Beethoven sonatas cycle with Midori and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, which the artists will perform in its entirety at Dartmouth College New Hampshire and Suntory Hall, Tokyo.

The Suntory Hall Beethoven sonatas cycle is part of a five-day celebration of Midori’s anniversary that also pays homage to Beethoven and to Midori’s mentor, the late Isaac Stern, whose significant birthdays fell during Covid lockdowns.

Over the course of the season, Midori, Lederlin and Biss perform Beethoven piano trios in London, Hamburg and Koln while Midori offers the Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Schumann, Korngold and Detlev Glanert concertos with orchestras in Europe, the United States and Asia.

Two other longstanding passions of Midori – J.S. Bach’s six sonatas and partitas for solo violin and newly commissioned works – are combined in recital programs that Midori performs at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Carnegie Hall, the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco and elsewhere in the United States, Canada and Europe throughout the 2022-2023 season.

Midori receives her 2020 Brahms Prize – – at last

(Above photo ©Andreas Guballa)



Midori was awarded the Schleswig-Holstein Brahms Society’s Brahms Prize in 2020 but the prize ceremony had to be postponed because of the Covid pandemic. The event took place on August 20, 2022 at St Bartholomaus Church in Wesselburren.

The jury honored Midori for her internationally celebrated interpretations of the works of Johannes Brahms as well as for the support she gives to the younger generation of artists and her special commitment in the spirit of humanity to projects promoting culture, not least as a UN Peace Ambassador. The prize is endowed with €10,000.

Alongside the prize ceremony Midori performed a program of solo works by J.S. Bach, Jessie Montgomery and John Zorn.

The first recipient of the Brahms Prize was Leonard Bernstein in 1988. Subsequent winners have included Yehudi Menuhin, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Sabine Meyer, Thomas Quasthoff, Christoph Eschenbach and the Thomanerchor.      

A profile of Midori published to coincide with the Brahms Prize event can be found in NDR Kultur



Stream Carnegie Hall’s Concert for Ukraine on-demand from June 8 for two weeks

Carnegie Hall’s all-star benefit Concert for Ukraine, in which Midori participated, is available to stream on-demand beginning Wednesday, June 8 at 2 PM EDT for two weeks.


Proceeds from the live event on May 23—including 100% of ticket sales—supported Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid nonprofit organization that provides urgently needed medical supplies to relief groups on the ground in Ukraine. Donations can still be made directly through Direct Relief’s website: www.directrelief.org/Carnegie-Hall


The stream can be accessed via:

Carnegie Hall website
Carnegie Hall+
YouTube Stream
Facebook Stream