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BSO and BSO Youth Orchestra hosts violinist Midori

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Editor's Note: This story has been augmented by releases from the BSO and Kathryn King Media.

BANGOR The Bangor Symphony Orchestra and the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestra will be hosting internationally acclaimed violinist Midori and her Orchestra Residencies Program, an educational residency and set of concerts, scheduled to take place in Bangor and Orono from Jan. 28 to Feb. 1. Events that are open to the public include a Master Class at the University of Maine on Jan. 30 at 5 p.m., a concert with the BSYO and student soloists at Bangor High School on Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. and a Masterworks concert with the BSO at the Collins Center for the Arts on Feb. 1 at 3 p.m.

'I am incredibly excited to meet and work with the young musicians of the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestra,' Midori said in an email interview. 'One of the absolute highlights of each ORP residency for me is having opportunities to visit with and meet the members of youth orchestras around the country. They possess a unique love for creating music and a sense of joy in the experience that is absolutely thrilling to be a part of.'

Midori has been a professional musician for 32 years, having played the world over, and is recognized internationally as a gifted performer and educator. She feels called to bring music to those who aren't privileged enough to have it regularly in their lives and actively works to ensure those who don't have the means can still access the musical arts.

'I am fortunate to be involved with several different organizations that combine youth and music in a variety of ways. The Orchestra Residencies Program is a project that I [began] over a decade ago with the goal of bolstering the youth orchestra across America through music education and unique residencies,' she said. 'My visit to Bangor is under the auspices of this program, and I am pleased to say that ORP has created residencies in dozens of communities across the United States, involving thousands of young musicians in the creative and educational process.'

On Jan. 29, Midori will conduct an outreach tour with Ga Hyun Cho and three members of the BSYO: Abigail Szewc of Hermon, Lily Dudley-Holland of Mattawamkeag and Kate Brenner-Simpson of Sullivan. They will visit Acadia Hospital and perform for the pediatric and adult in-patients as part of the BSO and Acadia's ongoing Music and Wellness Program. Then they will move on to St. Joseph's Hospital to participate in the hospital's music program for staff, patients and visitors. Finally, they will visit Dirigo Pines Retirement Community in Orono.

'Another important project with which I am involved is Midori & Friends. This was the first outreach organization that I founded. Created over 20 years ago, it aims to provide music education opportunities to young people in the New York City area through a variety of presentations and instructional programs. Music Sharing was originally the Japanese branch of Midori & Friends, though it has come to evolve into a program that utilizes music of many kinds to bridge cultural divides between children and others in Japan and in other parts of Asia,' she said. 'Among other components, Music Sharing also has a special project for young people with developmental disabilities, and another to provide intensive training in community engagement projects for aspiring professional musicians.'

On Jan. 30, at 10 a.m., Midori and Ga Hyun Cho will perform a violin demonstration for string players from all Bangor schools before answering questions. At 1 p.m., Midori will coach the Orono High School Orchestra before leading a violin demonstration. At 5 p.m. at the Minsky Hall at the University of Maine, Midori will conduct the annual Dr. Maurice P. King Master Class for both BSYO and the University of Maine violin students.

She works as a full-time educator at a major university, holds a position as a guest professorship at Japan's Soai University and also devotes large amounts of time to community engagement work. What started as small performances at schools and hospitals has grown into major organizations that focus on community engagement and the idea that music should be available to all. Since 1992, Midori & Friends has enhanced the lives of 225,000 children in New York City with limited or no access to the arts.

'My own experience in the arts has been critical in my planning and developing these projects. I have felt and seen firsthand how powerful music can be as a way of expressing oneself without words, or as a means of creating connections between people who may not otherwise have a bond,' said Midori. 'That many children do not have opportunities to share in this process and to experience the joy of making music for themselves is a tragedy, and one that I hope to be able to work to overcome as a society.'

Both the Orchestra Residency and the Music Sharing are available through satellite programs with Midori internationally in countries such as Costa Rica, Myanmar, Bulgaria, Mongolia and Cambodia. From Jan. 28 to 31, Midori and violinist Ga Hyun Cho, a doctoral candidate at USC, will work with all BSYO ensembles and students at rehearsals. There will also be a roundtable discussion on college auditions for BSYO families and local teachers on Jan. 29. This will culminate with a special concert with Midori and the BSYO on Jan. 31 at 7 p.m.

The concert features Midori as a soloist in Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as in Bach's Concerto for Two Violins alongside student soloists Julia Malcom of Trenton, Brandon and Colin Aponte of Brooklin, and Will Somes of Cherryfield. Seating is general admission with a $5 suggested donation and tickets can be reserved at bangorsymphony.org/midori.

Her body of work, both as a professional musician and an educator and community activist is vast. Yet balancing her musical career, activism and work in education is in turns a challenge and fulfilling.

'I believe that if we all examine our lives and our various responsibilities as workers, or students, or parents, or children, and so on, that we all engage in a delicate balancing act most of the time. Though the particular details may be different, the need for balance is the same. In my case, I find that the various elements of my musical work serve to offset one another in a beneficial way,' said Midori. 'For instance, by guiding my students at the University of Southern California to develop their abilities as musicians through methodical practice and dedication, I find that my own commitment to playing is reinvigorated. The experiences that I take away from my community engagement programs inspire me to teach others and to instill a sense of societal awareness and involvement in my students. My work as a soloist not only provides valuable opportunities for my own creative expression, but reminds me of why music is such a beneficial exercise for everyone, thus kindling my desire to teach and leading me toward new community projects.'

Midori makes a point to difference between someone who is considering a career as a professional musician and someone who uses music in other was to enhance his or her life.

'It is certainly different to consider a life in music as a professional and to consider a life that is enriched with music in some other way. I believe that every person should have the opportunity to enjoy music in whatever way best suits him or her--as an audience member, as a player, as a student, as a teacher in any setting,' Midori said. 'Music can be a welcome relief from the stress of other aspects of life, a way to create and build meaningful relationships with other people, and an opportunity to see the world through another lens and learn more about oneself.

'To work in music from a professional standpoint means not only many of these rewarding things, but it also means commitment and discipline required to continue to improve your abilities. As with many other fields, professional musicians must be prepared for discouragement and rejection and must develop a sense of personal accomplishment that helps to overcome these external forces,' she said. 'These are just a few of the challenges and rewards that young people looking toward a life in music must be prepared to face.'

Finally on Feb. 1 at 3 p.m., the Bangor Symphony Orchestra will present its next Masterworks concert Midori and More! Music Director and Conductor Lucas Richman will conduct Midori in Schurmann's Violin Concerto in D minor on a program that also features Sibelius' Finlandia and Symphony No. 1. Maestro Richman and Midori will lead a pre-concert talk at 2 p.m. at the Collins Center for ticket holders. Tickets may be purchased through the Collins Center for the Arts box officer at 800 622-TIXX or go online to bangorsymphony.org. Ticket prices range from $19 to $45 for adults and $13 for students.

For up to date residency information, visit bangorsymphony.org/midori. For more information about Midori, please visit gotomidori.com.

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