Jazz and Classical Pianist / Singer-songwriter / Oboist / Fashion Blogger / Globetrotter
Amanda Yiyen, (born Amanda Wu 吳苡嫣; December 23, 1982) is a Taiwanese jazz/classical pianist, singer-songwriter, arranger, fashion blogger, life designer, inspirational speaker and global trotter. Yiyen is the first and only Taiwanese musician to be selected by Cirque Du Soleil. Not only that, she is selected for not just one, but three instruments in the entertainment company, including keyboard, oboe, and backup vocals. Her versatility, “outside of box thinking” and rule-bending lifestyle got her noticed by TED at 28 years old, Yiyen performed at TED x Taipei and spoke on The Power of Journey. Yiyen is well-known for creating eclectic, Jazzy-pop style of music with deep classical influence, her elegant fashion style with modern attitude, tailored unique path of life, and her ability to push beyond her comfort zone. Her fearless ability to adapt to various different cultures has allowed Yiyen to become an influencer around the world. Born in Taichung City, Yiyen grew up in Taiwan and studied classical piano and oboe at the top music schools. Since she was 8 years old, Yiyen has achieved countless awards in piano, oboe, singing, composition and speech. At the age 19, she won the champion in an international piano competition in Montreal. At the age of 20, Yiyen attended McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and graduated with a Bachelor degree in Music, with a concentration on Jazz Piano in 2006. Yiyen has traveled and performed all over the world and has resided in a few major cities, including New York City, Milan, Montreal and Taipei. During her career, Yiyen was invited by National Symphony Orchestra as the pianist and keyboardist to perform with celebrity musicians, including Italian vocalist Andrea Bocelli, Hollywood soundtrack composer George Fenton, Japanese animation soundtrack composer Joe Hisaishi, DJ/Author Shiuan Liu, and singer-songwriter Joanna Wang. At 30 years old, she moved to New York City and obtained Alien with Extraordinary Ability Visa, also known as a genius visa. While In NYC, she began to restructure the career and life she truly desired.
She did this by observing business elites and online influencers, and formated the draft of her ultimate career. At 31 years old, she obtained a scholarship to learn Italian in Milan, Italy. Over these career years, she has been released 1 album and 2 EPs, including Jazz without Time Zones (2010), original series “The Journey On Earth”, Vol.1: Unknown (2014), and Vol.2: Stories of Time (2017). At 34 years old, Amanda Yiyen expanded her brand name beyond her music career. She integrated all her creative strengths, Music, Fashion, Idea and Journey, and incorporated them into her entire brand, AmandaYiyen.com, where she has both a music shop and upcoming fashion shop. She is currently residing in New York City as a creative entrepreneur, thriving businesswoman, fashion influencer and spiritual mentor through her blog: AmandaYiyen.com.
Amanda Yiyen was born Amanda Wu on December 23, 1982, in Taichung, Taiwan. Even at a young age, Yiyen clearly exhibited an array of creativity and music talents. When she was just 3 years old, Yiyen was able to mimic songs with accurate melody, rhythm, and pitch. It wasn’t until she started learning how to play the piano at 4 years old that her music teacher discovered Yiyen had perfect pitch.
Elementary School, (1989-1995):
Amanda Yiyen initiated her music career young when she enrolled in the prestigious music elementary school, Gung Fu. As a child music prodigy, she quickly exhibited phenomenal skill in piano, oboe, vocal and composition. Yiyen competed in JOC, organized by Yamaha, for 6 years, where she excelled. In 1991, 1992, and 1995, Yiyen not only made it to the final round of the competition, she was chosen to be the representative of Taiwan to perform her composition at the Asia Oceanic Junior Original Concert (AOJOC). Her first year in AJOC in 1991, when she was only 8 years old, she represented Taiwan in Singapore, performing a composition entitled, The Happy Vacation. In 1992, Yiyen traveled to Jakarta, Indonesia to perform her composition, The Dancing Girl. In 1995, Yiyen traveled to Bangkok, Thailand to perform her composition, Syncopation Violin. In addition to learning the piano and compose music in her youth, Yiyen began learning the oboe In 1994. When Yiyen was 11 years old, she toured with the school orchestra in Brisbane, Australia and Sydney, Australia. It was this year that Yiyen won the first piano champion in a piano competition organized by the city government of Taichung. Additionally, Yiyen won first electronic organ champion at the national competition, a competition of all ages, including experienced adults. These awards had major positive impact in Yiyen’s music life. A year later, Yiyen won second place at the composition competition organized by the city government and, as a result, was chosen to speak at her graduation commencement. She was even recognized as an outstanding student by the government. To add to her plethora of musical skills, Yiyen also had a passion of singing and was lead vocalist in her school choir.
Junior High School, (1995-1998):
Amanda Yiyen was 13 years old when she won second place in oboe in the Taichung City Music Competition and second place in oboe at Nationals. At 14 years old, she won first place in oboe and second place in piano at the Taichung Music Competition.
At Nationals, Yiyen became champion in oboe and placed fifth in piano. That year, she went to a summer music camp in Zurich, Switzerland, later touring with her school orchestra at the Lincoln Center Alice Tully Hall in New York City. At her school’s annual concert, she wore many hats, such as the leader, arranger, oboe soloist, vocal soloist, and lead dancer. It was at this time that Yiyen implemented a new, innovative style of presentation, one that challenged the traditional classical concert. She arranged Mandarin pop songs in opera format and arranged soundtrack of a Hollywood movie into the orchestra.
It was clear Yiyen had the ability to combine different genres of music, like classical and pop, then transform them into a creative presentation. By the time Yiyen reached the age of 15, she was accepted with the highest scores into the National Tainan College of Arts. That summer, she played the oboe and toured with the Taiwan Youth Orchestra throughout France, Austria, Hungary and Romania.
Senior High School, (1998-2001):
While studying at the National Tainan College of Arts, Yiyen excelled, but often times found herself feeling trapped and wanting more from her college experience. Yiyen decided to transfer to a traditional senior high school in order to have the opportunity to apply for the university in the capital city, Taipei. The school delivered a more military oriented style of education Yiyen was not accustomed to. Despite having to take her standard education classes for the whole day, she continued pursuing music outside of school. At 16, she won second place in piano at the national competition hosted by Yamaha. Her hunger for creativity only grew as she branched out to different types of music. Yiyen joined two rock bands that year and was also the guest oboist for multiple woodwind bands in many cities throughout Taiwan. Additionally, she began growing an interest in jazz and jazz fusions. Soon after, she arranged fusion jazz pieces from Dave Grusin and David Benoit for electric organ. Although the school did not provide music education, that did not hinder Yiyen’s musical path to success. She managed to juggle both school and music by taking private music courses outside of the classroom. At 18 years old, Yiyen was accepted into two major universities of the arts, National Taipei University of Arts (Major in oboe, minor in piano) and Fu-Jen University (Major in piano, minor in oboe). Yiyen wanted her college experience to help develop her personality and further her knowledge of not only music and arts, but other aspects of life journey. As a result, Yiyen decided to attend to Fu-Jen University, a university that embodied the more open, westernized lifestyle Yiyen truly wanted for her young life. This decision was surprising to most since the National Taipei University of Arts was considered to be the top university for arts, but Yiyen decided to trust her intuition and listen to her heart. Studying at Fu-Jen provided her freedom and diversity, and ultimately gave her a sufficient space to discover her true style both in music and in life. During her college career, she thrived in Jazz music. She attended to a summer music camp in Montreal. She took jazz courses and found a whole new appreciation for the genre of music. She also won the champion in an international piano competition. This was a turning point in Yiyen’s career, since she felt like she had achieved an elite level in classical and as ready to turn to another challenge. She switched her focus to a whole new genre and decided to become a professional jazz musician. She not only excelled in jazz, she created a new style of music based on jazz. Yiyen quit her studies at the University of Fu-Jen and decided to develop her dream in Montreal, Canada. In 2003, Yiyen studied in Musi-technic college and learned music technology and production. In 2004, Yiyen was accepted into McGill University and studied Jazz Piano. She finished her entire 4-year college education in just 2 so that she could quickly apply her studies to the real world. Yiyen graduated from McGill University in 2006.
From 2007-2008, Yiyen taught music theory and keyboard in Hwa Kang Arts Senior High School in Taipei City, Taiwan. In 2008, Amanda Yiyen was the first Taiwanese musician selected by Cirque Du Soleil. (as a Keyboardist) In 2009, she became a spokesperson for KORG, the world-renowned music instrument company. In 2010, when Yiyen was 27 years old, she was invited to play keyboard and piano with the National Symphony Orchestra with Hollywood celebrity composer, George Fenton, celebrity singer and recording artist, Andrea Bocelli, and Japanese treasure composer, Joe Hisaishi. That year, Yiyen released her debut jazz album, Jazz Without Time Zones. In 2011, when Yiyen was 28, she arranged the album, The Adventures of Bernie the Schoolboy, for singer-songwriter Joanna Wang. She later toured with Joanna Wang throughout China. She also performed with her own Jazz Trio in Taichung Jazz Festival, a popular festival in her hometown. Yiyen also composed and sang electronic house music, Love is Too Short, in celebrity DJ Shiuan Lui’s album. A few of her other celebrity featured-performances included pop singer A-Lin at the Golden Horse Awards, pop singer Olivia Ong at the Shanghai Jazz Festival. When Yiyen was 28 years old, the former TED curator and current congressman Jason Hsu took notice of Yiyen’s music ability and unique way of living. Yiyen was invited to perform and speak at TED x Taipei, The Power of Journey.
Transitional Career (2013-2015)
By the time Amanda Yiyen reached the age of 30, she packed her prized possessions and moved to New York City to pursue her dream of becoming an international artist. During her first year in New York City, Yiyen became influenced by the vibrant city, developing an appreciation for fashion and business, but never losing sight of her music career. She collaborated with mixing engineer Paul Wickliffe, who was also the engineer for Mariah Carey, to produce her original EP, The Journey on Earth, Vol 1: Unknown Shortly after, she was chosen by Cirque Du Soleil for a second time as an oboist and backup vocalist.
She also travelled to Europe to visit and collaborate with the producer of the famous German band, Jazzanova, for “The Journey On Earth, Vol.2: Stories Of Time” in Berlin. Fascinated by the European culture, Yiyen decided to make her way to Italy. At 31 years old, she was offered a scholarship to learn Italian in Milan, Italy at ELLCI Italian Language School.
During her studies in Milan, her father passed away from a sudden heart attack. Yiyen traveled back to Taiwan to be with her family and recuperate from the loss. After 6 months in Taiwan, she decided to get back on track towards her progress of becoming an international musical sensation. She gathered all that she had learned from her travels, musical experiences, and aesthetic influences and decided to create a blog, AmandaYiyen.com.
Current Career (2016- Present)
Amanda launched her blog AmandaYiyen.com in March 2016, highlighting 4 main aspects of her life: Music, Fashion, Creative Idea and Journey. It combines all of her professional experiences, including her performance videos, album releases, fashion tips, creative thinking analysis, interviews with international musicians, and the cities where she lived and traveled. She is quickly evolving into a fashion influencer and be featured on the Fashion Magazine, Walk Fashion Week. Her entrepreneurship is also featured by female entrepreneur magazine, La Femme Collective.
In April 2017, Yiyen released her latest EP: The Journey On Earth, Vol. 2: Stories of Time, and gained much media attention in the United States. Four songs from the album premiered in the US, something not common from international artists. As a result, she toured in Taiwan, NY and Europe. Her song off the album, The Chaos of The Snow, was selected by JAZZIZ Magazine for their summer compilation.
In October 2018, she opened a fashion store in her blog. https://amandayiyen.com/fashion-store/#
Jazz-oriented Pop music with Classical flavor