Superstar violinist Midori opens 2014-15 UCSD Concert Season

On Oct. 1, UC San Diego’s fall concert season will be off to a start with superstar violinist Midori performing a selection of “new music” pieces in a recital with her frequent collaborator, Turkish-American pianist Özgür Aydin.

Born in Osaka in 1971, Midori began playing the violin at age 3, gave her first public performance at 6, and made her U.S. concert debut at 11 with Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic. Even as a child, she was known for her ability to communicate the underlying emotional quality of every piece of music she played.

Early on, when asked how she was able to put so much expression into a Mozart piece she had just performed, she answered: “I think of a dear, dead dog.”

These days, Midori, now in her 32nd year of performing, has many more things to think about. Besides touring extensively worldwide, she is a Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of Southern California, has a guest professorship at Japan’s Soai University, and spends a great deal of time bringing music to underserved populations, with organizations like “Midori & Friends,” a nonprofit she founded when she was 20.

“It started with a simple idea: to bring music to children,” she wrote on her website. “In the 1980s and early ‘90s there was a great deal of discussion concerning federal budget cuts to public education and their effects on the availability of the arts and music programs to children in the schools. My reaction was to become actively involved — hands on — in addressing the issue.”

She also gives performances and workshops in schools, hospitals and institutions around the world and provides learning opportunities for young artists. Additionally, she does a fair bit of recording, including, this year, a selection of violin and piano sonatas with Özgür Aydin that was nominated for an International Classical Music Award.

At UCSD, she and Aydin will present pieces written over the past three decades by six different composers, including the late Iannis Xenakis and Alfred Schnittke, as well as the very-much-alive John Adams, better known for his operatic works, like “Nixon in China,” which will be coming to San Diego Opera next spring. Also on the program are pieces by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, Argentina-born, New York-based Mario Davidovsky, and Stephen Hartke, a New Jersey-native who teaches, as Midori does, at USC’s Thornton School of Music.

The recital will be the first of this season’s “Wednesdays @ 7,” a series that offers new and experimental music performed by faculty and visiting artists. For upcoming concerts, visit musicweb.

If you go:

Grad Welcome Concert: Graduate students from UC San Diego’s Department of Music kick off the 2014-2015 season with a welcome concert for incoming grads and the public. 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 29 at Conrad Prebys Concert Hall on the UCSD campus. Free.

Midori and Özgür Aydin will perform 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1 at Conrad Prebys Concert Hall, UCSD. Tickets are $15.50 at (858) 534-3448 and