Award-winning media composer Sam Cardon has written music for more than 60 feature and IMAX films, two Olympic Winter Games, four documentaries, several video games, and television themes for such shows as Good Morning America, Monday Night Football, National Geographic Explorer, and ABC Sunday Night at the Movies.
Nez Perce Camp/Rapids is from National Geographic’s documentary on Lewis and Clark’s western explorations. SPOILER ALERT! As one might expect from the title, the music (about 29 minutes into the film) underscores the expedition’s first interactions in September 1805 with the Nez Perce, who had never seen a white man until the explorers, near starvation, stumbled out of the Bitterroot Mountains at Weippe. The Nez Perce graciously welcomed the Corps of Discovery, giving them supplies and information about the river route to the Pacific Ocean. Refreshed and prepared to continue onward, the explorers entrusted their horses to the Nez Perce until their return, continuing their journey west by canoe on the Columbia River.
This is a Billings Symphony premiere.
Notes from the composer:
“Commissioned by a five-orchestra consortium, the world premiere of Trail of Tears was given by the Omaha Symphony under the direction of Thomas Wilkins, with Amy Porter, solo flute, in Omaha, Nebraska on March 25, 2010.
“One of the tragedies of human history is the forced removal of peoples from their homeland for political, economic, racial, religious, or cultural reasons. In America, the forced removal of all Native Americans living east of the Mississippi River began with the passage of President Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act of 1830. In 1838, 15,000 Cherokee men, women, and children were forcefully taken from their homes by the U.S Army and placed in stockades and camps in Tennessee. From November 1838 to March 1839, the Cherokee, with scant clothing and many without shoes, were forced to make an 800-mile march for relocation in Oklahoma during the bitter cold of winter. Suffering from exposure, disease, and starvation, nearly 4,000 Cherokee died during the five-month march known as the “Trail of Tears.”
“My flute concerto is a musical journey into how the human spirit discovers ways to deal with upheaval, adversity and adapting to a new environment. The first movement reflects on meaningful memories of things past, inspired by a quotation from the Native American leader Geronimo (1829-1909): “I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun.” The second movement, entitled “incantation,” meditates on the passing of loved ones and the hope for a better life in the world beyond. The third and final movement, “sun dance,” evokes the most spectacular and important religious dance ceremony of the Plains Indians of 19th-century North America. Banned for a century by the U.S. government, the dance is now practiced again today. I have composed a fiery musical dance to suggest how reconnecting with rituals of the past might create a path to a new and brighter future.”
This is the Billings Symphony’s first performance of Daugherty’s work.
Viewing the Eroica in historical perspective, we can see it as the work in which Beethoven proclaimed the end of 18th-century Classicism and the beginning of 19th-century Romanticism. This work, composed in 1804, is probably the most influential single symphony ever written. Here, for the first time, the symphony becomes an unmistakably tragic-dramatic musical form. All the symphonists of later times build upon the conception first enunciated in the Eroica, and our conception of the word “symphonic” as implying something large, heroic and grand—both in form and sonority—takes its rise from this score.
The story is well-known, how Beethoven first intended the symphony as a musical tribute to Napoleon Bonaparte, whose democratic attitudes he admired. When Napoleon abandoned these ideals and proclaimed himself Emperor, Beethoven destroyed his original dedication and substituted for it the bitterly ironic title, “Heroic Symphony to Celebrate the Memory of a Great Man.” Beethoven clearly wished to give us his ideas on the subject of heroism and had no intention of retracting them when his idol turned out to have feet of clay.
The first movement is probably the longest symphonic movement that had been composed up to that time. Its thematic material is typical of Beethoven’s procedures, consisting of groups of brief motives, rather than the long-lined melodies associated with composers such as Schubert. These short phrases are fertile sources of development ideas, and a rich texture is woven from their endless combinations, supplemented from time to time by the addition of new material which is itself quickly absorbed into the overall pattern.
The second movement is the celebrated Funeral March. Few indeed are the poets who have spoken as bravely as Beethoven here speaks to the shrouded figure whose summons may not be ignored. There is neither saintly ecstasy nor meek resignation nor craven terror, but a kind of fortitude, altogether heroic, that seems born of both understanding and faith. It is not a plain march, but a fully developed symphonic movement, with a superb fugal section at whose climax the theme rings out on all the horns.
The Scherzo, with its mysterious mutterings in the strings, the sudden burst into a full orchestral fortissimo, the headlong syncopations, is also something new in symphonic music, and the first of a great line of “demonic” Beethoven movements. The contrasting Trio is more jovial with its horn fanfares, but does not lose the impulsive energy of the rest of the movement.
The Finale is an expansive set of variations. The theme is one which had served Beethoven several times before: first in The Creatures of Prometheus ballet music, then as a contredanse, and finally as a set of variations and fugue for piano. The variations begin with the barest harmonic outline of the theme. Gradually this is enriched in texture until the actual melody appears in the third variation. Both the melody and its bass line are subjected to continued variation. The modest tune gathers stature until at last, in a stately Andante, its expressive zenith is reached, singing in rich harmony. This is developed on massive lines and followed by a loud celebration, a fitting farewell to the whole epic.
The above notes were written by former librarian and principal timpanist, Jeff Edgmond for the Billings Symphony’s first performance of the Eroica on February 8, 1970. Additional performances occurred in February, 1984 and February, 1995.
This is the Billings Symphony’s fourth complete performance of Berlioz’s Opus 14. Previous performances occurred in February, 1973; November, 1983; and September, 1995. Below is Nicholas Temperley’s translation of the composer’s programme, which was handed out at the December, 1830 premiere in Paris:
The composer’s intention has been to develop various episodes in the life of an artist, in so far as they lend themselves to musical treatment. As the work cannot rely on the assistance of speech, the plan of the instrumental drama needs to be set out in advance. The following programme must therefore be considered as the spoken text of an opera, which serves to introduce musical movements and to motivate their character and expression. — Hector Berlioz
DAY-DREAMS — PASSIONS
The composer imagines that a young musician, troubled by that spiritual sickness which a famous writer has called le vague des passions, sees for the first time a woman who possesses all the charms of the ideal being he has dreamed of, and falls desperately in love with her. By some strange trick of fancy, the beloved vision never appears to the artist’s mind except in association with a musical idea, in which he perceives the same character — impassioned, yet refined and diffident — that he attributes to the object of his love.
This melodic image and its model pursue him unceasingly like a double idée fixe. That is why the tune at the beginning of the first allegro constantly recurs in every movement of the symphony. The transition from a state of dreamy melancholy, interrupted by several fits of aimless joy, to one of delirious passion, with its impulses of rage and jealousy, its returning moments of tenderness, its tears, and its religious solace, is the subject of the first movement.
The artist is placed in the most varied circumstances: amid the hubbub of a carnival; in peaceful contemplation of the beauty of nature — but everywhere, in town, in the meadows, the beloved vision appears before him, bringing trouble to his soul.
IN THE MEADOWS
One evening in the country, he hears in the distance two shepherds playing a ranz de vaches; this pastoral duet, the effect of his surroundings, the slight rustle of the trees gently stirred by the wind, certain feelings of hope which he has been recently entertaining — all combine to bring an unfamiliar peace to his heart, and a more cheerful color to his thoughts. He thinks of his loneliness; he hopes soon to be alone no longer … But suppose she deceives him!… this mixture of hope and fear, these thoughts of happiness disturbed by dark forebodings, form the subject of the adagio. At the end, one of the shepherds again takes up the ranz de vaches; the other no longer answers … Sound of distant thunder … solitude … silence …
MARCH TO THE SCAFFOLD
The artist, now knowing beyond all doubt that his love is not returned, poisons himself with opium. The dose of the narcotic, too weak to take his life, plunges him into a sleep accompanied by the most horrible visions. He dreams that he has killed the woman he loved, and that he is condemned to death, brought to the scaffold, and witnesses his own execution. The procession is accompanied by a march that is sometimes fierce and somber, sometimes stately and brilliant: loud crashes are followed abruptly by the dull thud of heavy footfalls. At the end of the march, the first four bars of the idée fixe recur like a last thought of love interrupted by the fatal stroke.
SABBATH NIGHT’S DREAM
He sees himself at the witches’ sabbath, in the midst of a ghastly crowd of spirits, sorcerers, and monsters of every kind, assembled for his funeral. Strange noises, groans, bursts of laughter, far-off shouts to which other shouts seem to reply. The beloved’s tune appears once more, but it has lost its character of refinement and diffidence; it has become nothing but a common dance tune, trivial and grotesque; it is she who has come to the sabbath … A roar of joy greets her arrival … She mingles with the devilish orgy … Funeral knell, ludicrous parody of the Dies iræ,2 sabbath dance. The sabbath dance and the Dies iræ in combination.
1At concerts in which this symphony is played, the distribution of this Programme to the audience is indispensable to the full understanding of the dramatic plan of the work. [HB]
Another translation found regarding whether to publish the program: If the symphony is played separately at a concert … the program does not need to be distributed among the audience, and only the titles of the five movements need be printed, as the symphony can offer by itself (the composer hopes) a musical interest independent of all dramatic intention. [HB]
2A hymn chanted during the funeral Service of the Catholic Church. [HB]
Join the Billings Symphony Chorale as their voices resonate throughout St. Patrick Co-Cathedral in downtown Billings. This concert combines traditional and contemporary pieces that highlight the talent of our amazing chorale. Below are some examples of the pieces you can expect to hear.
Ms. Morgan began her dancing career with the original San Diego Ballet (SDB) School & Company. She was awarded a full Ford Foundation Scholarship
to the School of American Ballet and later danced with New York City Ballet under the direction of George Balanchine, toured with Suki Schorer’s
NY Lecture Ensemble and performed in Helgi Tomasson & Kay Mazzo NYCB Troupe. Returning to San Diego she developed her reputation as a teacher and dancer in local studios before opening the SD School of Ballet in 1989. She has choreographed for various theatre groups including network TV, served as rehearsal assistant for local children in San Francisco Ballet’s San Diego productions, and was honored for her leadership in the dance community.
Ms. Morgan founded the new San Diego Ballet in 1990.
Mr. Velasco has supplied dances for productions at the La Jolla Playhouse, Old Globe, and has a long-standing relationship with the San Diego Repertory Theatre and he has received numerous awards for his directing and choreography. Mr. Velasco currently serves as artistic director of the SDB, having created over 70 original pieces since its inception, including 10 pieces in collaboration with composer David Burge to commissioned scores. He was recently awarded a Creative Catalyst Fellowship to create a new work with Jazz saxophonist, Charles McPherson for the upcoming SDB season.
School of Classical Ballet
Ms. Loos directed her own school for six years before co-founding the School of Classical Ballet with former business partner Jana Stockton. Betty received her early training from June Austin and Hungarian teachers Ildiko Perjessy and Angela Mc Alpin. She continued her training at the University of Utah under the direction of William Christiansen, and at the Teachers’ Training Program through the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Former students have danced with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theater, Smuin Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, David Taylor, and apprenticed with the National Ballet of Canada.
Ms. Marble attended the National Academy of the Arts in Champaign-Urbana, IL, a performing arts high school, and then attended Cornish Institute of the Allied Arts in Seattle, WA. She later continued her dance studies and performing in New York City. Marble danced professionally with Matthews-Masters Dance Company, Bernhardt and Dancers, and many other NY modern dance companies. Marble served as the Artistic Director of Dance Arts Los Alamos in NM, a non-profit performing arts school, prior to teaching in Billings.
It is Christmas Eve and the Stahlbaum family decorates their splendid living room for the annual party. Their children, Clara and Fritz, rush in all aglow at the prospect of toys and magic and sweets. Soon the family is joined by their friends and beloved grandparents and a wonderful party commences. The children perform a dance with Christmas garlands and their parents follow with a polka.
Suddenly, at the height of the dancing, Herr Drosselmeyer, a Russian magician, appears. He brings three mechanical dolls who perform for the guests: a Ballerina doll, a mechanical Mouse, and a handsome Nutcracker. Little Clara falls in love with the Nutcracker and Drosselmeyer gives her the doll as a gift. While Clara and her Nutcracker doll are dancing a pas de deux, the mechanical Mouse suddenly goes out of control. There is a terrible scuffle with the Nutcracker, who is suddenly knocked out and broken by the Mouse. As the guests depart, Clara mourns her broken doll.
Late into the night, Clara creeps quietly back into the living room to console her Nutcracker and falls asleep by his side. Midnight strikes and the mysterious Drosselmeyer appears again. He casts a spell over Clara and puts her in a dream-like trance. Her dream turns into a nightmare as mice begin to scurry about and the Christmas tree grows to giant proportions. Clara runs to her Nutcracker doll and pleads with him to save her. He calls forth his army of toy soldiers and a huge battle rages with the mice, led by their Mouse King. The Nutcracker is about to be defeated when Clara distracts the Mouse King—just at that moment the Nutcracker runs him through with his sword and the battle is won!
For helping him win the battle, the Nutcracker offers to take Clara through the Kingdom of the Snow on the way to his home, the Land of Sweets. They encounter the Snow Queen and King and their Court, who dance the Waltz of the Snowflakes in a wintry scene.
Angels dance at the gates of the Land of Sweets, followed by a team of Bakers who are working on a cake. Clara enters and is greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy who dances a solo.
Various confections then perform their characteristic dances for Clara: Spanish Chocolate, Chinese Tea, Arabian Coffee, Marzipan Shepherdesses, Russian Candycane, Salt Water Taffy Sailors and the Dewdrop Fairy and Flowers. The Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier then dance a pas de deux, before the entire Court dances together in a spirited finale celebrating Clara’s joy and happiness.
Jeremy Kittel has earned a reputation as one of the most exceptional violinists and fiddlers of his generation. With tremendous musicality; a rare mastery of styles as diverse as jazz, Scottish and Irish fiddle, bluegrass, classical music, and more; a unique compositional voice, and an “exhilarating stage presence” (Strings Magazine), Kittel inspires listeners and fans worldwide through his solo work and collaborations.
As a leader, he performs with his own Jeremy Kittel Band (quartet), as well as intimate duo and trio formats, and also as a soloist with orchestras. In collaboration, he is frequently called upon by some of today’s most influential and vibrant artists in a variety of genres; he has recorded and performed with musical giants My Morning Jacket, Jars of Clay, Mark O’Connor, Abigail Washburn, Camera Obscura, Bela Fleck, Laura Veirs, Aoife O’Donovan, Paquito D’Rivera, Stefon Harris, and many more. He also recently completed a five-year full time position in the Grammy-winning Turtle Island String Quartet.
His most recent solo recording, Chasing Sparks (Compass), features his original compositions with a stellar cast of musicians including special guests Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, and Mike Marshall, and has garnered rave reviews among acoustic music circles worldwide.
Committed to nurturing future generations of musicians, he is a passionate clinician and educator and regularly teaches at programs such as Belmont Strings Crossings, International Music Academy of Pilsen, Mark O’Connor Strings Conference, Swannanoa Gathering, and schools and universities worldwide.
He currently resides in beautiful Brooklyn, NY and can sometimes be spotted climbing trees and wandering the wild woods of Central and Prospect Parks.
In 1999 and 2000, Tyler Duncan won the All-Ireland Championship (the World Championships of Irish Music) on the uilleann pipes – and became the first American to win the All-Ireland on that instrument. In 2001, he won the All-Ireland on the bodhran – also the first American to win an All-Ireland on that instrument as well. At age 15, he was featured the on EMMY award-winning Kitty Donohoe Album “This Road Tonight.” Upon turning 16, Tyler composed, arranged and performed the score for an original Irish musical comedy,The Changeling, produced by Wild Swan Theater in Ann Arbor. At 17, Tyler worked with an instrument maker to design a new chromatic Low Whistle, with which he became the first Low Whistle player ever to be accepted into a university music program, becoming a jazz studies major at the Univerisity of Michigan. That same year he recorded an album with his progressive Irish cross-over band, Millish, which went on to win two International Acoustic Music Awards. During his first year of college, he was a featured soloist with the Ann Arbor and Ashland Symphony Orchestras. At age 19, he recorded with the Kruziki Trans-atlantica Quintet, a Middle Eastern-Tango-Jazz project, performing an extended solo on a high-energy Armenian 9/8 composition. That track earned a Downbeat Music Award and was selected to be a part of the nationally-distributed Jazziz Magazinecompilation. Later that year, he was recorded with the UNITY award-winning band, Ceili Rain, on their album, “Whatever Makes You Dance,” including the #14 single, “Kneeling.” At 20, he composed a big-band drum-and-bass adaptation of the traditional Irish song, “The May Morning Dew.” That arrangment was selected to be performed at the prestigious International Assocation for Jazz Educators Conference. Shortly thereafter, the piece was selected to be performed live on national radio as a part of NPR’s, “Jazz Set.” During his last two years of college, he switched directions, and as a synth player and producer, started an electronic dance-rock band called Ella Riot. Upon graduation in 2008, he began touring with that band full-time. Today, their live show is described as “an out-of-body experience,” (Urb Magazine), they have performed over 250 shows nation-wide, including Lollapalooza, 10,000 Lakes, and Wakarusa. They have been featured inSeventeen and VenusZine magazines; Fox Network’s “Fearless Music;” Pepsi’s “Refresh” campaign; and shared the stage with 3OH!3, Mike Posner, Neon Trees, and OK GO!.
Now he is taking time off the road to focus on composing, producing, mixing, and all those other good studio things.
Amy Logan is thrilled to be on stage again with the Billings Symphony. A frequent performer in the community, Amy sings with the High Plains Chamber Singers and has been a soloist with the Billings Symphony and Messiah Festivals in Billings and Missoula. She has been seen on stage with Rimrock Opera, NOVA, Venture Theatre and Prince Theatre. Amy’s opera credits include the title role in Floyd’s Susannah, Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Mimì in La bohème, Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, Despina in Così fan tutte, and the title role in Sister Angelica. Amy’s favorite musical theatre roles include Velma in Chicago, Missy in The Marvelous Wonderettes, Ellen in Miss Saigon, and a variety of characters in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Amy is also a music educator, serving in her tenth year as the Director of Choirs at Billings Skyview High School. She conducts the Choralaires High School Choir for the Billings Youth Orchestra and Chorale and she teaches private voice lessons. Amy earned degrees in Clarinet Performance and Music Education from the University of Montana and is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree. She recently became a certified member of the VoiceCare Network. Amy is proudly raising two budding musicians of her own! She loves the Billings community and the opportunity to live, work, perform and raise her family here.
On stage New Year’s Eve at the Alberta Bair Theater in Billings will be acclaimed contemporary a-cappella group Rockapella! With nineteen albums to their credit, Rockapella will bring to the ABT their soulful sounds of original songs, along with their own renditions of Motown, pop and soul classics.
A worldwide talent search led Rockapella to Steven Dorian, a former baseball star at the University of Massachusetts. Steven comes to Rockapella straight from the world famous stages of Disney, having played many major roles in Disney productions, including Disney’s Festival of the Lion King. Steven is a man of many talents whose singing, dancing and guitar playing have been showcased from Branson to New York, opening for Kenny Rogers, performing for international audiences. With his gorgeous vocals, smooth style, and magical grace on the stage, Steven rounds out the savory blend of Rockapella’s three tenors.
Our newest member, Ryan Chappelle hails from Lincoln, Nebraska and has previously provided thundering bass lines for Lincoln’s No Better Cause, and Boston’s mighty Ball In The House (BITH). Our drummer, Jeff, is always on the lookout for big funky bass lines to drum with, and Ryan has been at the top of his list. We’re now happy to welcome Ryan to the family!
Pyrotechnics is a word often used to describe Scott Leonard‘s singing voice. Scott grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, and though he departed the Hoosier State for the University of Tampa on a baseball scholarship, he ended up a voice major. He sang in rock groups for Disney in both Orlando and Tokyo for two years, releasing solo albums while in Japan. Scott’s soaring vocals and songwriting & arranging prowess have played major roles in shaping Rockapella’s characteristic sound.
The astonishing percussion sounds you hear in a Rockapella show are performed vocally by Jeff Thacher, completing Rockapella’s band-without- instruments sound. Born of a very musical family and raised on piano lessons from an early age, he later added frequent vocal and choral experience. After receiving a degree in music and recording from Boston’s renowned Berklee College, Jeff spent a few years working in the radio and television industries while singing and experimenting with vocal percussion on the side in various groups, developing his unique sound. Since joining Rockapella in 1993, he’s been known as a pioneering giant among professional mouth drummers (a select group of beatboxers) who, as he likes to put it, “spit for a living”. Jeff’s powerful virtuosity forms the funky rhythmic heartbeat of Rockapella, delighting and astonishing audiences everywhere. An American original, for sure!
Calvin C. Jones was born and raised in East St. Louis, IL, and grew up idolizing Michael Jackson & Stevie Wonder. He started singing at an early age, then joined the vocal group Men Of Note at 13 and traveled the world as one of their lead singers for many years. Singing led to a passion for theater, and he went on to be featured in shows such as Dreamgirls, Fabulous 50’s, & Little Shop of Horrors, and brought his talents as a lead singer to the group SouthTown Fever. Rockapella had the good fortune to find Calvin while he was showcasing his silky smooth voice as a featured singer at Busch Gardens, Tampa, FL
Join us at the Alberta Bair Theater, January 23, 2015 at 11:00 am, for our annual Family Concert. This year, relive your favorite cartoons through their music. Cartoon Compositions is a delight for children of all ages. Take a listen to just a few of the songs we will performing.
Hungarian Rhapsody No 2.
How To Train Your Dragon: Coming Back Around
How To Train Your Dragon: This is Berk
Join the Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale in welcoming the 2015 Montana Association of Symphony Orchestras’ Young Artist Winners Edin Agamenoni and Emily Young. Listen as they take you on a magical journey full of artistry and intrigue. We will travel to the East via Russia with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.
Cirque de la Symphonie is a new production formed to bring the magic of cirque to the music hall. It is an exciting adaptation of artistic performances widely seen in theaters and arenas everywhere.
Artists include the most amazing veterans of exceptional cirque programs throughout the world—aerial flyers, acrobats, contortionists, dancers, jugglers, balancers, and strongmen.
Each artist’s performance is professionally choreographed to classical masterpieces and popular contemporary music in collaboration with the maestro.
The orchestra and chorale share the stage for Mahler’s immortal “Resurrection” Symphony. Get up close and personal with the musicians as they perform this massive undertaking that will leave you on the edge of your seat and wanting more!
In the 2014-2015 season, the 32nd of violinist Midori’s professional career, she will play the world premiere of a new work by Johannes Maria Staud – Oskar (Towards a Brighter Hue II), Music for Violin, String Orchestra and Percussion – at the Lucerne Festival and the Vienna Konzerthaus; she will make two new recordings, one of Bach solo sonatas and partitas (on Onyx) and one of DoReMi, the violin concerto by Peter Eötvös (on Naïve); she will continue her community engagement work in Japan and throughout the U.S., while doing her usual complement of recital, chamber music, and concerto appearances throughout the world. In another highlight of 2014-2015, Midori will conduct a week-long festival at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall, which will feature four concerts, each with a different program. The week will include a presentation by children with physical and developmental challenges from her Music Sharing organization; a concert featuring Midori playing 4 complete violin concertos; two recitals (one of new music, one of standard repertoire) with pianist Özgür Aydin, and more. She is particularly excited to be recording one new violin concerto (the Eötvös) and playing the world premiere of another (the Staud) in the same year. Midori has been given the prestigious title Artiste Étoile by the Lucerne Festival, which co-commissioned the Staud concerto along with the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Konzerthaus, and the Vienna ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra. The world premiere was performed with James Gaffigan conducting the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, on 27 August 2014.
Today Midori is recognized as an extraordinary performer, a devoted and gifted educator, and an innovative community engagement activist. In recognition of the breadth and quality of her work in these three entirely separate fields, in 2012 she was given the prestigious Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum in Davos, was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and was awarded an honorary doctorate in music by Yale University. In 2007, she was named a Messenger of Peace by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In essence, over the years she has created a new model for young artists who seek to balance the joys and demands of a performing career at the highest level with a hands-on investment in the power of music to change lives.
Named Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of Southern California in 2012, Midori works with her students at USC’s Thornton School, where she is also Jascha Heifetz Chair. Midori thrives amidst the challenges presented by her full-time career as educator at a major university. To these commitments she adds a guest professorship at Japan’s Soai University, and substantial periods of time devoted to community engagement work.
Midori’s involvement with community engagement began in earnest in 1992. Then just 21 years of age, she started an organization to bring music to underserved neighborhoods in the U.S. and Japan. What started with just individual personal appearances by Midori in classrooms and hospitals has blossomed over the last 22 years into four distinct organizations, whose impact is felt worldwide. The underlying idea inspiring Midori’s community engagement work is that the joy of music should be available to all.
Because people in wealthy or privileged circumstances have easy access to the performing arts, Midori’s organizations focus on bringing music to the less fortunate. Since 1992,Midori & Friends has enhanced the lives of over 225,000 New York City children who have little or no access to the arts, through high quality music education that nurtures their creativity and self-confidence (www.midoriandfriends.org); Partners in Performanceoffers recitals by Midori and others to chamber music lovers in small communities throughout the U.S. seldom visited by established touring artists (www.pipmusic.org);Orchestra Residencies Program brings a week-long residency by Midori to two U.S. youth orchestras with winning applications each year (http://www.gotomidori.com/orp/); andMusic Sharing provides both traditional Japanese music and Western classical music performances and workshops to children in schools, hospitals and institutions, as well as learning opportunities in Japan and Southeast Asia for young artists (chosen by audition from all over the world) who are interested in community/music engagement work (www.musicsharing.jp). Both Orchestra Residencies Program and Music Sharing also conduct satellite programs with Midori internationally, in such countries as Costa Rica, Myanmar, Bulgaria, Mongolia, and Cambodia.
Midori’s enthusiasm for playing and supporting the music of our time has blossomed into a significant and ongoing commitment. Over the years she has commissioned works for a great variety of forces. Over all, the individuals Midori has sought out to create new repertoire for the violin represent an impressive array of some of the most talented of today’s composers, including Lee Hyla, Rodion Shchedrin, Krzysztof Penderecki, Derek Bermel, Brett Dean, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Michael Hersch, Pierre Jalbert, Peter Eötvös, and now Johannes Maria Staud.
Midori’s two most recent recordings join an already extensive discography on two other labels, with fourteen recordings on Sony Classical and two on Philips. In 2013, Finnish label Ondine featured Midori in a rare recording of Paul Hindemith’s violin concerto, in collaboration with the NDR Symphony Orchestra and conductor Christoph Eschenbach, which won a Grammy for Best Classical Compendium. Later in the season the British label Onyx released a recital program by Midori with pianist Özgür Aydin in sonatas for violin and piano by Shostakovich, Janácek, and Bloch, which was nominated for an International Classical Music Award.
In 2004, Midori joined the ranks of published authors with the release in Germany of a memoir titled Einfach Midori (Simply Midori), for the publisher Henschel Verlag. It was updated and reissued in German-speaking territories in 2012.
In 2000, Midori received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Gender Studies at the Gallatin School of New York University, graduating magna cum laude, and in 2005 earned her Master’s degree in Psychology, also from NYU.
Midori was born in Osaka, Japan in 1971 and began studying the violin with her mother, Setsu Goto, at a very early age. Zubin Mehta first heard Midori play in 1982, and it was he who invited her to make her now legendary debut – at the age of 11 – at the New York Philharmonic’s traditional New Year’s Eve concert, on which occasion she received a standing ovation and the impetus to begin a major career. Today Midori lives in Los Angeles. Her violin is the 1734 Guarnerius del Gesù “ex-Huberman.” She uses three bows – two by Dominique Peccatte, and one by Paul Siefried.
Join us for our 44th annual Symphony in the Park! The largest concert, and most visible component of Explore Music!, wraps up another season and introduces many to live, symphonic music. This is a favorite Billings Tradition! Bring your blanket or lawn chair and relax to an evening of music under our big Montana Sky while enjoying picnic fare from participating food sponsors.