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Her Violin Sings and Heals

Fourteen-year-old Keila Wakao
Fourteen-year-old Keila Wakao is a junior competitor in Menuhin Competition Richmond. She plays on a 100-year-old French instrument in which she tries to replicate the human voice. (Photo: Kevin O’Connell)

“I always feel like the violin is almost like a replica of the human voice. And I really like singing. So I thought that I could bring that into the violin.”

Fourteen-year old Boston native Keila Wakao gave her first solo performance at the age of nine with the Metrowest Symphony Orchestra. She has played in numerous recitals and competitions in the US, Europe and Japan. Wakao was also the youngest participant in the Perlman Music program in 2018 and 2019.

“When I got my first real violin, I remember I thought it was so big. But when I think about it, it was really, really tiny. And I just loved making music out of this tiny violin,” said Wakao, who started violin at the age of three.

Keila Wakao takes inspiration from her parents; her mom plays the piano and her father Keisuke Wakaois assistant principal oboist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and principal oboist of the Boston Pops Orchestra.

When her father was diagnosed with cancer, Wakao used her talents to provide emotional support to her family.

“I feel like music really helped us cope through this experience,” said Wakao. “My music was more deep in a way and passionate.”

Keila Wakao is a junior competitor in the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021. She currently studies with Donald Weilerstein and Soovin Kim from the New England Conservatory of Music.


Keila Wakao is a junior competitor in Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021.

Credits: Kevin O’Connell recorded the interview with Keila in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The episode was produced by Ian Stewart, and edited by managing producer Peter Solomon and executive producer Catherine Komp. If you liked what you heard, please rate and review Making Menuhin in your favorite podcast player.

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