Wan-Chen Hsieh, oboist, is the first-prize winner of the 7th International Händel Oboe Competition, held in 2004, Halle, Germany. She has appeared as soloist throughout Europe and Asia, including performances with the MDR Chamber Orchestra Leipzig, Schöneberg Chamber Orchestra, Adlershof Chamber Orchestra Berlin, National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) Taiwan, Taipei Symphony Orchestra, Kaohsiung City Symphony Orchestra, Taipei Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, Taipei National University of Arts Orchestra, and C.Y.C. Wind Orchestra. She gave also recitals and chamber music concerts in many music festivals, including Bach Festival in Leipzig, Händel Festival in Halle, Germany, Deutscher Musiktag in Berlin, and so on. At the mean time, she was chosen as “Young Stars” from the National Cultural Center Taiwan in 2000 and 2004, and gave numerous recitals in Taiwan until today.
From 2000 to 2005, Wan-Chen was oboist in New Chamber Orchestra Potsdam and Ensemble Affettuoso Berlin, with them she gave concerts through Europe. Since 2009, she joins the Taiwan Connection Music Festival Chamber Orchestra, established by violinist Nai-Yuan Hu, and gives concerts with other TC musicians through Taiwan every year.
Who were your first teachers?
My first oboe teacher is Ms. Wendy Huang, she was solo-Englishhornist at Taipei Symphony Orchestra. I started my first oboe lessons with her at the age of 9. And in the junior high school, I got oboe lessons from Prof. Liu, Ting-Hong. He is the first Taiwanese oboist studied in Germany, and came back to encourage so many young musicians in Taiwan. After that, I went to Berlin at the age of 18. Entering Hochschule der Künste Berlin, I majored in oboe at Prof. Burkhard Glaetzner's class. He is really a great oboist and early music/ contemporary music expert. I learned so many important techniques and performance experience from him.
What are some aspects of the teaching approach that stand out in your memory?
I think every teacher had given me many useful and helpful suggestions. With different ages, the student needs different ways to learn oboe. Fortunately, all my teachers are so experienced to observe students, so that they can give suitable methods to let me practice oboe in a very happy mood.
Especially, Prof. Glaetzner gave so much time to pay attention to my breathing technique. He was with great patience to correct my breathing problems, and helped me to play oboe in a healthy way. It's really a very important turning point for me by playing oboe. Now I can practice or have rehearsal for long time without staying-power problems.
What or who was your biggest influence as a musician?
At 16, I went to Salzburg Mozarteum for summer class by Prof. Lothar Koch. He was principal oboist at Karajan period in Berliner Philharmonie. He always accompanied each student/ every piece by playing piano part in memory in class. He didn't play oboe in class, but tried to show us the music by singing or other ways. At that time, I also went to many concerts and visited masterclasses of piano and strings. That experience opened my eyes of real classical music. After 2 weeks in Salzburg, I decided to go to Europe to continue my studying. I think this trip to Salzburg, is the biggest influence for me as a musician.
Favourite place(s) to practice?
A room with the view of grass or mountains.
Any common misconceptions about the oboe that you would like to debunk?
In Taiwan, many students like to play oboe with thick reeds, so that they can get tones with volume or sound better. But it's not true. We must try to find a relaxed way to blow with a light reed. And try to make the sound better with correct breathing technique.
How’s the oboe landscape in Taiwan? What opportunities do you see?
There are many excellent oboists in Taiwan, but there are not so many positions in orchestra or school for them. It's a big problem for now. But I think there are many music lovers in Taiwan. If we can try something different to share music, maybe it could open a new way for us.
If you were to give 3 tips to oboe beginners, what would they be?
Watch out the breathing method.
Take light reeds.
And have fun by playing.
Wan-Chen's first classical recording “Bel Canto” won the “Best Classic CD” in the 19th Golden Melody Awards in Taiwan, and first crossover recording “Capriccio Pine Breeze” was published by Wind Music in fall 2007. Her latest releases include a CD of Händel’s Six Triosonatas for Two Oboes, “Timeless Treasure”, recorded with Oboist, Prof. Burkhard Glaetzner, as well as the world premiere of Tsung-hsien Yang’s Oboe Concerto “Song of Losses” with the NSO (National Symphony Orchestra) Taiwan and Maestro Jahja Ling, Music Director of the San Diego Symphony.
Wan-Chen lives now in Taiwan and works not only as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Taipei National University of Arts, but also as the Music Director in the CHEW’s Culture Foundation. She organizes performances for the contemporary music group “SpringAutumnMusic”, and the series of family concerts “C.I.M. Concerts in Museum”. At the mean time, she is a mother of three.