Midori Goto is an internationally-renowned violinist and philanthropist. Born in Osaka, Japan, Midori began studying violin with her mother at a very young age, and made her debut with the New York Philharmonic at the age of 11. Her violin is the 1734 Guarnerius del Gesu "ex-Huberman," which is on lifetime loan to her from the Hayashibara Foundation. Since 1992, Midori has balanced touring and performing with humanitarian work. She has founded four community engagement organizations—Midori & Friends, Partners in Performance, Orchestra Residencies Program, and Music Sharing—and in 2007 she was named a U.N. Messenger of Peace. She currently lives in Los Angeles.
Question: What does it take to be a concert violinist?
Midoro Goto: It's unique to each individual musician. I think that some days I think that physical stamina, being healthy, is so important, that without it, I really, really can't be a performer. Artistically, I could also say that to be sensitive to the sounds, to be sensitive to the emotions, to be sensitive to the beauty of things, also. To be sensitive to one's, you know, surroundings, everything. It's really difficult to answer, just because there isn't really particularly one set of elements or characteristics or personalities that's going to make it happen. I also think that being able to relate, being able to be open to different ideas, also these opportunities to explore different worlds, different experiences. Just everything.
Music is something that's just encompassing, the entire person and his or her own world and so it's really difficult to say what really makes it happen, but it's everything.
Question: What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?
Midoro Goto: Every musician, every person is an individual, so there is no such a thing as a generic, generalized advice that one can give. I can say that I have benefited greatly from the experiences, but also it's about, it's not just about the experiences, but it's about how you internalize these experiences, how you take these experiences in and how you decide that you're going to utilize them. There are spontaneous things, too. You know, you realize something and there's a light that goes, you know, goes up and, you know, in front of your eyes and it's really exciting. But there's so many different things that happen with music.
But what I was coming down to before was that if music is something that calms people down or if, actually opens up another world for somebody who listens to it. You start to wonder about the community aspect of it. You start to wonder about, you know, how one tries to belong to a community and one tries to connect with other members of that community and communication starts. And I think for understanding each other, this is very, very critical.
Recorded July 9, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller