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Keila Wakao

Eighteen-year-old violinist Keila Wakao makes her Boston Symphony Orchestra debut for the BSO’s Opening Night Gala concert in September 2024 under Andris Nelsons, on a concert also featuring world-renowned mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and pianists Lang Lang and Gina Alice Redlinger. The BSO’s invitation follows her Grand Prize in the 2023 Boston Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. She performed a movement from Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with the BSO and Thomas Wilkins in the BSO Family Concert in October 2023.


Keila Wakao won First Prize in the 2021 Menuhin International Violin Competition Junior Division and the composer award, and was also awarded the Gold Medal and Bach Prize at the 2021 Stulberg International String Competition. In 2023, she was awarded the Aoyama Music Foundation Award in Japan for upcoming artists, and is a recipient of Charlotte White's Salon de Virtuosi Career Grant in New York. In 2024, she was given the Next Generation Distinguished Cultural Achievement Award from the Japan Society of Boston. Most recently, Keila was featured on CBS Boston’s television news. 

Born in 2006, Keila Wakao is from Chestnut Hill, MA, and began playing the violin at age 3. Former BSO concertmaster Joseph Silverstein accepted her as a student when she was 6 years old. From age 9, she has been a student of Donald Weilerstein. She worked with Itzhak Perlman and participated in the Perlman Music Program in summers 2018-2022. She has also studied with Soovin Kim at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School. In fall 2024, she will attend New England Conservatory as a student of Miriam Fried. She has also decided to defer her enrollment at Harvard College.


Named a “VC Artist” by Violin Channel, Keila Wakao has performed as soloist and in recital throughout the United States, Japan, Germany, Singapore, and the United Kingdom in venues such as Cadogan Hall (London), Victoria Concert Hall (Singapore), Jordan Hall (Boston), and Carnegie Weill Recital Hall (New York City). She made her solo debut with an orchestra at age 9 and has since performed with ensembles including the Richmond, Reading, Eugene, Chattanooga, Adelphi, Kalamazoo, New Phil, Resound Collective, Baden-Baden, Boston Civic, Lexington and Boston symphony orchestras and the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra. 

In 2017, Keila was invited to speak and perform at TEDxBoston. 

Keila plays on the Cremona 1690 “Theodor” Stradivarius violin on loan from the Ryuji Ueno Foundation and Rare Violins In Consortium, Artists and Benefactors Collaborative.

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