Midori Samson is a bassoonist, educator, and activist

In addition to her position in the WCO, Midori Samson is the Lecturer of Bassoon at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Principal Bassoonist of the Beloit-Janesville Symphony.

Midori is a former Fellow of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, a training program of the Chicago Symphony. She also previously performed as a bassoonist and contrabassoonist in the Chicago, Omaha, Madison, Charleston, and New World symphony orchestras, Japan’s Pacific Music Festival, New York String Orchestra, and National Orchestral Institute.

As a chamber musician and soloist, she has performed at the Banff Centre, Norfolk and Bowdoin International music festivals, and composer Elliott Carter’s 102nd birthday party. She was a winner of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Concerto Competition and was the inaugural winner of the Wind Ensemble Concerto Competition. Most notably, she premiered a recital of new solo works she commissioned by composers from across Africa. She continues to commission more works and reprise this recital across the Midwest.

As an educator and activist, Midori served on faculty at China’s Youth Music Culture Guangdong, a position she was offered by Yo-Yo Ma. She travels annually to India to teach with Artists Striving to End Poverty and has facilitated similar community engagement work in Austin, New Orleans, New York City, Guatemala, and the Philippines. Her proudest work is as the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Trade Winds Ensemble, an organization that hosts composition workshops for children in East Africa, Detroit, and Chicago. This work has led to many awards including Juilliard’s “Artist as Citizen” Prize and the McGraw-Hill Foundation Award for Music Education. Most recently she traveled to Rwanda to help write an original play with local artists to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.

Midori holds degrees from The Juilliard School and The University of Texas at Austin. Currently, she is pursuing a doctoral degree in bassoon and social welfare at UW–Madison where she is a Collins Fellow, the School of Music’s highest distinction. Her research investigates how music and social work can integrate to create a more antiracist and anti-oppressive classical music landscape. She hopes this will be just the beginning of a lifelong body of research on this topic.