In December 2022, it will be exactly four decades since Maestro Zubin Mehta invited the 11-year-old Midori to take the stage with the New York Philharmonic. That year was also your first year living in the U.S. What memories come to mind from that time?
When I am asked about what memories I have about the first day I was living in New York, to a certain extent, I think that when I remember and how I remember, these things all change over time. Some things kind of stick but not much, and the things that I do remember are things from every day. I remember coming to New York in February of 1982, and I had never seen so much snow. I think it was considered a particularly cold winter and a stormy one in New York. Of course, I’ve seen snow, but I had never seen snow that actually piles up meters high on the streets, schools being cancelled, classes being cancelled because of snow and weather. So, I remember that very well. I remember the tall building, being in the middle of these tall buildings, not being able to see any grass or a tree for a long time. I also remember the kindness of a very, very good friend of ours who agreed to house us until we found our own apartment. I remember going to a music school, any music school, for the first time. I remember the feeling of being surrounded by children who spoke English on my first day in elementary school. So, these are some of the things I remember from the first year. I didn’t particularly feel different being in New York, which of course, if you think about it, is so far away from Japan, and at that time, things were still different; we didn’t have Skype, we didn’t have Zoom, we didn’t have internet, and we only had the landline that we would use when we needed to call somebody in Japan like my grandparents. And in no way the frequency in which we could have this direct communication was very limited to what we now are able to do, but letters were going back and forth and all this, and there was something very warm and meaningful in these interactions.
We understand that your 2022-2023 season will be pretty special, being your 40th anniversary on stage, with notable collaborations. Can you give us a sneak preview of what’s to come?
Many interesting and exciting projects are coming my way in the coming season. A new recording with Jean-Yves Thibaudet will be released in fall 2022, and we will also be going on a joint tour in the fall of 2022, with Beethoven’s sonatas for piano and violin on the program. In the U.S., I will be performing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Korngold’s Violin Concerto with the National Symphony Orchestra, and there will be a recital tour in North America, including the Carnegie Hall in New York. In Europe, celebrations begin with a guest concert at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and the award-giving concert of the Brahms Prize in August 2022, and I will be Artist-in-Residence at the Volksoper in Vienna as well as at the Suntory Hall in Tokyo. It’s all very exciting.