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Midori Receives Honorary Doctorate from Yale University

Yale University

On Monday, 21 May 2012, in recognition of her accomplishments as musician, educator, and community engagement activist, violinist Midori was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree (Mus.D.) by Yale University. Since 1702, Yale has conferred honorary degrees in order to recognize individuals of extraordinary accomplishment and service. This year, Midori joins eight other honorees whose work has made a significant impact in one of the ten fields in which Yale awards honorary degrees:

Aaron Beck M.D., father of cognitive therapy
Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, UPENN
Doctor of Medical Sciences (D.M.S.)

Robert Darnton, eminent historian
Professor of History and University Librarian, Harvard University
Doctor of Humanities (D.Hum)

Robert Gates, career public servant and historian
Former U.S. Defense Secretary
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)

Jane Lubchenco, coastal marine ecologist
Environmental scientist and marine ecologist; NOAA Administrator
Doctor of Science (Sc.D.)

Margaret H. Marshall, distinguished jurist and pioneer in judicial reform
Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Doctor of Laws (L.L.D.)

Angelika Neuwirth, renowned Qur'an scholar
Professor of Arabic Studies, Freie Universität Berlin
Doctor of Divinity (D.D.)

Richard Wilbur, former poet laureate of the U.S.
Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.)

William Julius Wilson, influential sociologist 
Professor of Sociology, Harvard University
Doctor of Social Science (S.Sc.D)

This year's honorary degrees were conferred at the annual commencement ceremonies on the Yale campus, attended by the Class of 2012, their families and guests, Yale faculty and distinguished alumni. A private luncheon hosted by Yale President Richard Levin was held after the ceremonies to celebrate the new honorees.

"It is thrilling to receive this honorary doctorate from Yale University," says Midori, "and it is truly humbling to contemplate the company I'm in! I started out playing music because of the joy it brings to our lives, but in my work I am also discovering every day the power music has to heal, to educate, to stimulate the human mind in multiple dimensions. It is deeply gratifying and inspiring to know that Yale recognizes and values this work."

Among Midori's fellow recipients of Yale's honorary degrees in the 310 years since the inception of the program are Benjamin Franklin (1753), Noah Webster (1823), Samuel F.B. Morse (1846), Charles Ives (1874), Nikola Tesla (1894), Ignace Jan Paderewski (1917), Marie Curie (1921), Willa Cather (1929), Fiorello LaGuardia (1940), Felix Frankfurter (1961), Jean Piaget (1970), Stephen Hawking (1989), Mario Vargas Llosa (1994) and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (2003). 

In 1992 Midori founded Midori & Friends, a non-profit organization in New York which brings music education programs to thousands of underserved children each year. Two other organizations, Music Sharing, based in Japan, and Partners in Performance, based in the U.S., also bring music closer to the lives of people who may not otherwise have involvement with the arts. Her commitment to community collaboration and outreach extends beyond these organizations to her work with young violinists in master classes all over the world, and to her Orchestra Residencies Program in the U.S. Midori plays up to 100 concerts a year, dividing her time between recitals, chamber music and concerto performances worldwide. She has an extensive catalogue of recordings, and in recent years has devoted a great deal of energy and resources to commissioning and performing new music. In the 2012-2013 season - the 30th anniversary of her performing career - she will play the world premiere of a violin concerto by Hungarian composer Peter Eötvös, newly commissioned for her by the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the BBC Proms and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In addition to being named Artist of the Year by the Japanese government (1988), Midori has won the Avery Fisher Prize (2001), the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis (2002), the Kennedy Center Gold Medal in the Arts (2010), the Mellon Mentoring Award (2012), and the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum, for her "20-year devotion to community engagement work worldwide" (2012). In 2007, Midori was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace, and in 2012 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She is Distinguished Professor of Violin, Jascha Heifetz Chair in Violin, and Chair of the Strings Department at the Thornton School at the University of Southern California.

For more information about Midori visit