Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Q&A with Midori

Check out this Q&A with violinist, Midori, performing tonight at 8 p.m.

TBPAC: Your program presents a broad chronological scope (Beethoven to Cage). How did you craft it?

MIDORI: The recital programs are constructed with pieces of balancing styles and sounds that would create a cohesive flow to the program. The musical sequence should be appealing, with smooth transition from one piece to the next, as well as being interesting to the listener. Examining the works' similarities and differences is an essential part of the selection process, and a fascinating one as well.

TBPAC: Cage’s Six Melodies are not very well known. Tell us what we can expect from them.

MIDORI: John Cage wrote the Six Melodies in 1950. The middle of the 20th century was a very interesting time in America, both in music composition and in history, post-World War II and on the cusp of the cultural revolution to come in the next decade. The Six Melodies are extremely simple in how they sound, yet very intriguing and attractive for their unimposing, almost laconic feel.

TBPAC: Your accompanist Robert MacDonald is a highly respected artist in his own right. How long have the two of you been performing together? Can you sketch for us an outline of your typical rehearsal?

MIDORI: Bob and I have been performing together for over twenty years. Over the years, we have developed a solid and comfortable working relationship as well as a trusting friendship.

The process of rehearsing is very natural, and we can accomplish a great deal in our somewhat limited formal rehearsal times.

TBPAC: It has been amazing to watch your career and your development as a very public artist. Will you tell us about some of the priorities in your private life?

MIDORI: Teaching is at the forefront of my private and public life's priorities right now, to be engaged with students in this capacity is entirely humbling and inspiring. Each day holds new discoveries, challenges and rewards, and nothing makes me happier than seeing a student coming closer to his or her aspirations.

TBPAC: There is a general concern about the future of classical music, especially in America. As a widely travelled musician, do you see a decline in the consumption and enjoyment of classical music around the world? If so, what can be done to reverse this trend?

MIDORI: There is a lot of talk nowadays about classical music being a 'dying' genre, and this notion is far from the truth. Financial problems do exist in the classical field like in other fields, but artistically, classical music is as vibrant and exciting as ever.

The experience of great music is not limited to concert halls or big cities, nor is it only for those who can afford to purchase tickets. Music should be heard wherever it can be heard, from concert venues and churches to schools and hospitals, to public parks and coffee shops. These days, presenters are leaning towards offering various informal music events in addition to their regular concerts, efforts which will hopefully broaden the affordability of concert attendance and re-engage the general public with the classical genre.

TBPAC: Has the “new technology” (computers, I-Pods, blogs and the like) had an impact of you personally? Has it changed the way your fans listen to and buy your performances?

MIDORI: I do see that people increasingly obtain their information online. And of course email is a big part of my professional career - such as in interviews, and communicating with my managers and publicists, who are scattered from California and New York to London and Germany. However, it is also important to mention that there is no replacement for a direct, face-to-face encounters.

I like to think that the Internet adds to the classical music audience, as websites provide greater accessibility and a wealth of information. Fewer and fewer people buy music on LPs or tapes or CDs anymore in favor of downloading MP3s; the recording industry is required adjust accordingly to those demands. Performance videos are widely available on the web (with and without the proper permissions, but still there). Technology is a wonderful means of sharing music on a very broad level, but again, I have to say that it is no substitute for a live musical experience.

- Bill F.

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