We meet a violinist whose first language is music and who has become a UN Messenger of Peace.

With your mother as your first teacher, what was your early childhood like?

I started to play the violin as a four-year-old. I was living in Japan at the time, and my mother was a working mother. However, even though she was my first teacher, it’s not as though she practised with me all the time; she would give me lessons, but most often I would practise on my own. I always wanted to play the violin because that was the instrument that my mother played. I used to listen to her practise, and the sound of the violin was always closely connected to her, it symbolised her. I also loved how small the instrument was, rather than the huge piano, which I couldn’t carry.

At 10 you moved to New York City to study at the Juilliard School. Was that tough?

Because I didn’t speak English, at first I had some communication difficulties, but soon I realised we don’t always need words in order to make friends or communicate with each...