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May 26, 2017

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Award-winning composer with a dream larger than life

The moment I heard the topic of dream catcher, the very person that appeared in my mind was Owen Wang (王希文).

Wang, group director of Studio M (瘋戲樂工作室), won the Best Original Score of the Golden Bell Awards (金鐘獎) in 2009 when he was responsible for the film score of a short movie — "My Grandma" (曬棉被的好天氣) — the first paid job he was offered as a musician. He was later the composer of "Mulan" (木蘭少女), a musical, and two movies — "Jump Ashin" (翻滾吧 阿信) and "The Soul of Bread" (愛的麵包魂). The original soundtrack of Jump Ashin was nominated for best original film score of the Golden Horse Awards in 2011 and the Golden Melody Awards in 2012.

The most remarkable thing about Wang is that he didn't study music initially. After graduating from the department of political science at National Taiwan University, he worked at CITI bank. While everybody thought he was enjoying a successful life, he decided to take a drastic turn in 2007 — he quit his job as a banker and became a musician instead. In 2008, he went to New York University to study film scoring with Ira Newborn and musical writing from Joseph Church, the musical director of "The Lion King."

"(To my surprise,) everyone started telling me that I was on the right track when I became a musician in 2007," said the musician. Being a composer is not easy in Taiwan. Wang, however, said that the more projects he does the more certain he is about his career.

"I'm constantly on the lookout for jobs," said the musician. Not having a salary, he has to fill in his schedule with multiple projects to earn a living. According to Wang, he just received an offer scheduled for later this year, but he has to start finding new projects in January and February next year to make ends meet.

A Perfectionist

Although most people would think Wang has made a huge accomplishment, he is still not satisfied with what he has achieved. "I am a perfectionist," stated the musician. Citing "Wicked" as an example, Wang said that in order to perfect a musical, both the composer and the script writer have to be given a substantial amount of time for brainstorming. After the music and script are ready, the performers, the script writer, the composer, the director and all others involved in the musical have to be "locked up" in the theater for a long period of time to rehearse. According to the musician, the stage and the lighting usually give him new ideas, making him want to change the score. It is by working together that all members involved are able to create an integrated piece of work.

"Dancers and singers should start to rehearse even if the script writer and composer are still finishing the last portions of their work," he said.

"I am looking for people who share my ideas," stated Wang.

A Dream Larger than Life

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