AshevilleNews StoriesPete Zamplas

Famed Midori connects with her violin, local students in Amadeus Fest


Grammy-winning Midori herself a child prodigy at age 11, gave a master workshop with a half-hour of one-on-one tutoring with selected local rising talent last Thursday after first arriving from snowy New York City.

Above all, performing with her enabled students to see first-hand how she is a superb performer with sound and motion. Midori bobbed all about during concerts, at center stage. Yet each time, she moved fluidly as one with her violin.

“I really feel connected with my instrument,” she explained. A key is to stay “relaxed,” and let music and motion flow.

Asheville Symphony Youth Orchestra (ASYO) Conductor Emily Schaad said afterward how “expressive” and “natural” Midori is with her sweeping upper body motions. Asheville Symphony Orchestra (ASO) Exec. Dir. David Whitehill praised Midori for “lighting up the room” and “feeding off of our young people’s energy,” so the entire sound “evolves together.”

Midori Gotō remains at age 45 superbly adept, energetic and enthusiastic in playing classical music. She plays a 283-year-old violin — a 1734 Guarnerius del Gesù ‘ex-Huberman’ — and varies between four bows.

About nine hundred Buncombe County high and middle school strings students saw her play with the 120-member ASYO Friday, in outstanding concerts in T.C. Roberson then Erwin high schools. This previewed much of the full shows for the public on this last weekend.

Asheville is merely one of two cities she chose for this year, in her Orchestra Residencies Program of week-long residencies with smaller-budgeted American youth orchestras. Midori “cares deeply” about children, Whitehill could readily tell. Schaad said she was “stunned” by Midori’s dedication in the master class, and how she “loves spending time with young people.”

Midori spreads her joy for music to youths, expanding education to those in urban and rural areas where as she noted there is typically less funding and not a huge metropolitan symphony as a model. She chairs SoCal’s strings department. She founded non-profit Midori & Friends in 1992 in New York City. She is behind Partners in Performance, also Music Sharing in Japan.

“It is great to see a community coming together, to support its young musicians,” she stated. She said a youth orchestra brings together students from various schools, who otherwise might not meet. “It’s fun socializing,” she said. “It’s neat how you get to make beautiful music together.” As an ASYO student noted, a full orchestra blends marching band brass and percussion with strings and woodwinds.

ASYO opened by playing a perky Verdi number on its own, in the preview shows. Midori joined the youths for three numbers. The closer was by Bruch.

Sisters Phoebe then Elizabeth Propst of Asheville High School played solos alongside Midori, who at times tilted toward them. This was from Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins (“Bach Double Concerto”). Myles McKnight of Fletcher, a North Henderson student, played the finale of three solos in the full show for that piece. In the previews, he played first chair violin for Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Right after it, Midori heartily congratulated him. Violinists rotated places, in the program. The youths and rest of ASYO were obviously very honored to play with Midori, and earn her praise via smiles and gestures.

As a bonus, Midori answered questions about her craft from event co-host Cara Jenkins. Jenkins manages ASYO. Practice makes perfect is an adage that even Midori still abides by. She told the crowd that she does “daily maintenance,” to keep as “sharp” as can be and “maintain my abilities.” Practice goes from musical scales, to her “repertoire” for upcoming performances.

Asheville Amadeus Festival will feature renowned classical American pianist Garrick Ohlsson in 2018, its fourth year, Whitehill noted. For more on festival events, check For more on Midori, check

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