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Albert Einstein once said that the “important thing is not to stop questioning.” A similar aphorism applies to composer and classical musician Yoko Hamabe Wylegala, whose life has been defined since the age of 7 by studying and questioning one subject or another.

“My parents took me to a ballet recital of ‘Swan Lake,’ and I was awestruck by the music. So I asked for Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’ album as a birthday gift,” she says from her home in Washington D.C. “That was my first encounter with music. I wanted to experience the real thing, and to understand what Tchaikovsky’s music meant.”

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