Midori is one of those people who are so famous they don’t need a last name, like Madonnaor Ronaldinho. So it was a major coup when the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, an otherwise low-profile regional ensemble, snagged the superstar violinist for a pair of performances this weekend at Schlesinger Concert Hall on the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College.
The Stravinsky “Firebird Suite” that opened the evening was a showcase for the orchestra’s power and its sharp-edged responses. The world premiere of conductor Kim Allen Kluge’s “Meibuki — Regeneration,” written to memorialize the victims of last year’s Japanese earthquake and tsunami, was the culmination of a week of violinist Midori’s residency with the orchestra and five local high schools.
Violinist Midori visited T.C. Williams High School March 27 as part of an exclusive residency in Alexandria and Arlington public schools, part of her award-winning Orchestra Residencies Program. The week of outreach will culminate in two performances by Midori, students and the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, including a world premiere piece honoring the victims and survivors of the 2001 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Midori also performed with the symphony in 2006.
Midori, a native of Japan, is a former child prodigy who for years has been regarded as one of the finest violinists of her generation. She will perform with the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra on March 31 and April 1, featuring Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite” and Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto.”
It was the chance of a lifetime for members of the T.C. Williams High School youth orchestra as world-renown Midori spent March 27 coaching aspiring musicians as part the legendary violinist’s week-long Orchestra Residencies Program.
“This was an exciting day,” said Midori, who selected Alexandria as one of only two communities in the nation to participate in the outreach program she founded in 2004. “This is the whole purpose of being here — working with the students and making music.”
As part of her ORP initiative, Midori is spending the week in Alexandria and Northern Virginia collaborating with local youth and adult orchestras, visiting public schools and meeting with community leaders to advance the cause of music and arts education.
As funding for Art programs in schools continues to dwindle, students in the Alexandria and Arlington area this week get a rare chance to work with world-renowned violist Midori. Midori is here as part of her Orchestra Residencies Program (ORP), which brings some much welcome help to educational and community arts programs across the country.
As a child prodigy at Julliard, Midori noticed a disconnect between students and working musicians. The young performers would only get glimpses of their adult idols let alone any collaborative time with them. Now, in addition to her own international career, Midori works hard to bring the professional music experience back to students—especially those who might not have such opportunities otherwise. Started in 2004, the ORP committee selects two sites for five to seven days of performance workshops, rehearsals, questions and answer sessions and even dinner with students and parents—all culminating with a final performance with a youth orchestra.
It would have been a heart-stopping moment for any violinist. Midway through the last movement of Leonard Bernstein’s wildly difficult “Serenade” — with Bernstein himself conducting the orchestra — the tiny, doll-like soloist Midori suddenly felt the E string on her violin snap. She calmly turned to the concertmaster, who handed her his own instrument (which was much larger than hers), and she picked up where she had left off — until the E string on that violin snapped as well. Midori didn’t miss a beat. She turned back to the concertmaster to borrow a second violin and finished the piece flawlessly.
The crowd at the Tanglewood Music Festival exploded to its feet, and Bernstein swept her up in a tearful hug as the orchestra broke out in cheers. The headline in the New York Times the next day summed it up: “Girl, 14, conquers Tanglewood with 3 violins.”
2012 is already shaping up to be a momentous year for the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra/Symphonica Nova, as the organization prepares to welcome the violinist Midori, who most recently performed with the ASO in 2006. Midori will perform Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor with the ASO and Maestro Kim Allen Kluge on March 31st and April 1st, and she will also spend the week of March 26th in Alexandria City Public Schools and Arlington Public Schools in Northern Virginia as part of her Orchestra Residencies Program. A native of Japan, this former child prodigy has for years been regarded as one of the finest violinists of her generation. She has been consistently honored for her significant contributions to music education, notably by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who named her a United Nations Messenger of Peace in 2007, and most recently by the World Economic Forum, which gave her their coveted Crystal Award in 2012.
The ASO/Symphonica Nova is one of only two orchestras selected by Midori’s Orchestra Residencies Program (ORP) for a residency in the 2011-2012 season. This program brings the violinist to the community in support of the efforts of local youth orchestras, to underscore the importance of music in their communities and to encourage collegiality between the musicians in local adult and youth orchestras. Midori works individually with the orchestras, their members, and music education programs through collaborative performances, master classes, and workshops. The Alexandria Symphony is pleased to be a part of Midori’s Orchestra Residencies Program, and to be partners with the following schools and their music programs for this highly important education initiative:
Alexandria Symphony Orchestra/Symphonica Nova and the Midori OrchestraResidencies Program: Local Educational Partners, March 26-April 1
Minnie Howard School, Alexandria City Public Schools
T.C. Williams High School, Alexandria City Public Schools
Wakefield High School, Arlington Public Schools
Washington-Lee High School, Arlington Public Schools
Yorktown High School, Arlington Public Schools
The highlight of the residency will be Midori’s work with the youth orchestras, and the week will conclude first with a free concert by the youth orchestras. She will be featured in collaboration with several student soloists in a performance of J.S. Bach’s Concerto for 2 Violins in D Minor, BWV 1043 (Emma West and Sarah Paez, violins; Tzu-Ching Tai, conductor), and Vivaldi’s Concerto for 4 Violins in B Minor, Op.3 #10 (Tom Hartman, conductor).Then on Saturday, March 31st and Sunday, April 1st, Midori will join the Alexandria Symphony and Maestro Kim Allen Kluge in a program that includes the impassioned Firebird Suite by Igor Stravinsky and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor. The ASO will also be performing the world premiere of a new composition by music director Kim Allen Kluge to remember the victims and survivors of the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami, entitled 芽吹きMEIBUKI – Regeneration. The Arlington and Alexandria students who participated in the week-long residency with Midori will have the opportunity to join the ASO onstage which will also feature the Arlington Children’s Chorus led by artistic director Kevin Carr.
Midori with the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra/Symphonica Nova
Saturday, March 31, 2012, 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 1, 2012, 3 p.m.
Kim Allen Kluge, conductor
Simeon Simeonov, violin
Orchestra Residencies Program Participants from Arlington and Alexandria
Arlington Children’s Chorus
Kevin Carr, Artistic Director
STRAVINSKY: Firebird Suite
KLUGE: 芽吹き MEIBUKI – Regeneration: In memory of the victims and for the survivors of the 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. For Midori. WORLD PREMIERE.
Simeon Simeonov, violin Orchestra Residencies Program Participants
Arlington Children’s Chorus
MENDELSSOHN: Concerto for Violin in E Minor
Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall & Arts Center, 3001 N. Beauregard St., Alexandria, VA
Tickets: start at $40 adults & seniors, $10 students and $5 for youth (18 & under). Join Colleen Fay for a free preconcert chat one hour prior to each performance in the Concert Hall. Free parking. alexsym.org or 703-548-0885.
About Midori’s Orchestra Residencies Program
The Orchestra Residencies Program (ORP) was initiated by Midori in 2004 as a way of connecting with and supporting American youth orchestras. ORP aims to provide collaborative music-making opportunities that inspire and educate the next generation of classical musicians. The program also strives to increase the community profile of youth orchestras by strengthening ties with the local professional orchestras. The program is especially important to Midori, and each is substantially subsidized by Midori herself.
The ORP residency lasts five to seven days. Over the course of that time, Midori participates in a wide variety of different educational projects and community engagement activities with the students of the local youth orchestra. In the past, those activities have included Q & A sessions, master classes, short performances, arts advocacy trips, and more. For more information, visit www.GoToMidori.com/orp.
The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Kim Allen Kluge present Music of Dreams as the themefor its 68th season. One of the many highlights in 2011-2012 is the return of Midori, who most recently performed with the ASO in 2006 and for years has been regarded as one of the finest violinists of her generation. In addition to performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto on March 31 and April 1, she will also spend the week of March 26th in Alexandria’s T.C. Williams High School and Arlington County Schools as part her Orchestra Residencies Program.
The ASO was one of two orchestras personally selected by Midori and her staff for her residency in the 2011-2012 season. This program allows the violinist to highlight the importance of music in the community by working individually with local orchestras and music education programs through master classes, workshops, and administrative guidance. More information about Midori’s work in Alexandria and Arlington, as well as the Orchestra Residences Program in general, can be found at www.GoToMidori.com/orp.
The 2011-2012 ASO season will begin on October 8th-9th with the world premiere of David Balakrishnan’sForce of Nature, performed on cello by the composer’s fellow Turtle Island Quartet member Mark Summer. Balakrishnan will perform violin on another of his original compositions, Little Mouse Jumps. Other performers sure to make Music of Dreams a memorable season include Thomas Mastrioanniperforming Liszt’s transcription of Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy in November; Richard Stoltzman on Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in February; and Carlos Rodríguez rounding out the season in May with a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Additionally, the orchestra will be performing Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique; Symphony No. 3, “Organ” by Saint-Saëns; Mozart’s Requiem; Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite; and The Planets by Holst.
The ASO will also bring back several of its annual events in 2011-2012: the Holiday Jazz concert at Arlington’s Artisphere plus the Children’s Holiday Concert in Old Town, Alexandria (both in December), and the Children’s Arts Festival in spring of 2012. Details forthcoming as these events draw nearer. As in past seasons, the Symphony will continue with its highly popular offer of $5 youth tickets to all concerts. Families interested in introducing their children to classical music are encouraged to take advantage of this incredible offer, particularly for Sunday matinee performances.
Additionally, music historian Colleen Fay will continue with her informative and fascinating free preconcert chats, held one hour prior to each classical subscription concert in Rachel M. Schelsinger Concert Hall.