Wan Heo is a Korean composer and a violinist whose compositions have been performed in South Korea, Italy, Singapore, Spain, and the United States. Her recent commissioners include line upon line, New Music On the Point, highSCORE festival, VIPA (Valencia International Performance Academy), among others. Wan is doing research on Korean ancestors' appreciation to nature by recording sounds at historical sites in South Korea, with her first work on this project, From Air to Mind, being presented at Composition In Asia conference at University of South Florida.
Attending an arts middle school as a violinist, Wan chose to transfer to a public middle school after finishing her first year, as she thought choosing a career at such a young age would leave her with one option. "It was too early to decide what I would do for my whole life and … just keep that as the only ability for so long," she begins.
Going to a private foreign language high school, the young musician didn't have access to music because of the rigorous academic schedule. Very stressed, she realized that she needs to go back to music, enrolling in an arts high school. Heo reckoned it would be too late to resume pursuing a career as a violinist, she switched to composition. Wan's real decision to become a composer was made only after graduating with a B.M. in Composition from Ewha Womans University in South Korea, when she realized this is something she wants to continue doing, and she applied to study abroad.
The composer didn't know a lot about music schools in the U.S., but she knew she wanted to study there. Having a teacher who earned his degrees at the Eastman School of Music, University of Michigan, and University of Southern California, Wan turned to him for advice. "He was actually the one who really helped with the application," she says. "I relied on his recommendations [and] he gave me the list of schools based on my portfolio, TOEFL score, and everything else."