Born in Osaka, Japan, Midori began studying violin at age three under the guidance of her mother, the accomplished violinist Setsu Gotō. Early in her career as a performer, she came to the attention of the conductor Zubin Mehta, who invited her to be the surprise guest soloist at the New York Philharmonic’s New Year’s Eve concert in 1983 when Midori was only 11. The performance was the debut of her critically acclaimed solo career. Midori continued her performance studies while completing course work in psychology and gender studies at Gallatin. After graduating magna cum laude from Gallatin, she went on to earn a master’s degree in psychology from NYU.
A dedicated philanthropist, she founded the nonprofit Midori & Friends, an organization dedicated to bringing music to children in New York City. After winning Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Prize in 2003, Midori used her prize money to establish another nonprofit, Partners in Performance, which co-presents chamber music concerts in smaller communities outside the radius and without the financial resources of major urban centers. In 2007, she was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace and, in January 2012, received the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to honor her commitment to community engagement worldwide. In 2012, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the oldest and most prestigious honorary societies in the United States and a leading center for independent policy research. She is a distinguished professor and the Jascha Heifetz Chair of Music at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.