Sweet Midori a Ride Along the Silkroad

By Richard Mineards   |   November 21, 2023
Midori and Lucerne Festival Strings strumming along (photo by David Bazemore)

UCSB Arts & Lectures was on a roll at the Granada last week with two major productions within 48 hours.

Kicking off the impressive program was Japanese violinist Midori and the Festival Strings Lucerne, under artistic director Daniel Dodds.

Founded in 1956, the Swiss company is now considered one of the world’s most distinguished chamber orchestras with works ranging from baroque to contemporary, with Dodds, who was appointed in 2012, leading the orchestra from the concertmaster’s chair, starting the highly entertaining performance with Honegger’s “Pastorale d’été” and Dubugnon’s “Caprice IV,” as Midori joined them in Schumann’s “Violin Concerto in D Minor,” masterfully played.

In the second half, Midori – who has played with the late Leonard Bernstein and Yo-Yo Ma, among many others as she celebrates the 40th anniversary of her professional debut with the New York Philharmonic at age 11, played an all-Beethoven program – “Romance in F Major” and “Symphony No.7 in A Major” on her 1734 Guarneri del Gesù instrument.

A truly magnificent performance.

The Silkroad Ensemble was smooth (photo by David Bazemore)

Then it was time for the multi-faceted Silkroad Ensemble and two-time Grammy Award winning singer and banjo playing artistic director Rhiannon Giddens to shine brightly with the West Coast premiere of American Railroad with a 12-member group of talented musicians illuminating the impact of African American, Chinese, Irish, indigenous and other immigrant communities on the creation of the U.S. Transcontinental Railroad.

It amplified untold stories to paint a richer, more accurate picture of the origins of the American Empire, which profoundly reverberate today.

Ireland-based Giddens, who won a Pulitzer Prize this year for her first opera Omar, and her fellow musicians were very much on the right track…


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