2019 Great Immigrants Recipient

Violinist, Educator, and Arts Advocate
Born in:

Born in Okinawa, Midori became known to American audiences when the 11-year-old violin prodigy was the surprise guest at the New York Philharmonic’s gala New Year’s Eve concert in 1982. Since that now-legendary debut, the renowned concert violinist has performed with the world’s greatest orchestras, collaborated with artists including Leonard Bernstein and Yo-Yo Ma, and won the Avery Fisher Prize and a Grammy. Until May 2018 Midori held the Jascha Heifetz Chair at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, where she spent 14 years teaching students and continues as a visiting artist. Throughout her adult life she has worked to expand access to classical music and music education around the world. In 1992 she founded the nonprofit Midori & Friends, which has brought music and vocal instruction and musical performances to more than 200,000 New York City students. As part of Music Sharing, another organization she founded, Midori joins young musicians for community performances in Asia, visiting refugee camps, hospitals, and schools in countries from Myanmar to Vietnam. In 2007 Midori was designated a United Nations Messenger of Peace. As she told the Santa Barbara Independent, “There will always be a need for classical music in the world. Today’s world is becoming faster and faster, and, in some ways at least, less connected. People can eliminate person-to-person interactions in favor of digital ones. There is something that music provides that technology cannot, and I believe that it helps to bring beauty into the world.”