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Teenage violinist to perform with Boston Symphony Orchestra

18-year-old violinist to perform with Boston Symphony Orchestra
18-year-old violinist to perform with Boston Symphony Orchestra 01:58

BOSTON – Being selected to perform on opening night for the Boston Symphony Orchestra is an honor bestowed upon some of the best musicians in the world.

One of the performers on September 19 is a local musician who is only 18 years old.

Inspired to play violin

Keila Wakao is a bright, engaging senior at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick. But that's only part of who she is.

"Playing violin is almost another way of showing people who I am" she said.

The violin virtuoso began playing when she was just three years old. She was inspired by a friend at a family gathering. Wakao took lessons, fell in love and found her second voice.

"Violin is still very much a way I communicate with people.  In some ways I feel more connected to people when I play music," Wakao said.

"She can play 'Mary had a Little Lamb' and I'm almost in tears because of the humanity she's bringing to the music, and then be able to transmit that to every audience she's in front of" described Eric Barber, Head of School at Walnut Hill. 

Walnut Hill School for the Arts

The private academy has a global student body and allows talented teens like Keila to thrive.

"At Walnut Hill, challenge joy and support are really at high levels," Barber said.

"My day feels incomplete when I don't practice. But there have definitely been days when I go home from school and I just want to sleep" Wakao said.

Performing at Symphony Hall

She'll need her rest in the fall.  Wakao will attend the New England Conservatory of Music as a freshman, will perform at Symphony Hall then travel the world. 

"Next year I'm also going to Japan, Singapore and Germany back to back" she said.

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. WBZ-TV is spotlighting exceptional individuals and organizations in the AAPI community.

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