Seoul, South Korea
Jungyoon Wie was a gifted musician before she chose to attend The College of Wooster, but during the past four years, she has become a prolific composer, and she credits Jack Gallagher, professor of music, and his colleagues in the music department for helping her to cultivate those skills.
"When I first came to Wooster, I did not know much about composing," she said. "Dr. Gallagher spent a great deal of time with me. He was always there whenever I needed something. He gave me a lot of individual attention and support."
A native of Seoul, South Korea, Wie came to the U.S. to attend preparatory school at St. Andrew's-Sewanee School in Tennessee. "As a middle school student in Korea, I felt very restricted," she said. "I felt as though I had no choices, no opportunity for discussion in class, so I told my parents that I wanted to go somewhere else."
Wie's parents, both of whom attended college in the U.S., were more than willing to allow her to explore other options overseas. When it came time to choose a college, Wie became quite interested in Wooster. "I was impressed with the curriculum and the faculty, particularly Dr. Gallagher’s background," she said. "My parents were also very interested in my attending a liberal arts college."
So onto Wooster it was for the young student with perfect pitch who started playing piano at age six and violin at age nine. It didn't take Wie long to settle in and begin to explore advanced composition, which she knew would "open the door to other things."
Under Gallagher's watchful eye, Wie not only started to understand the process, but she quickly began to produce award-winning compositions. As a sophomore, she received an honorable mention award in the 2012 Sejong International Composition Competition in Chicago for Chung-Sung-Gok (Korean for "Clear Sound"). That same year, her orchestral work, Flying in Winter, was premiered by the GRAMMY®-winning Cleveland Chamber Symphony at the Cleveland Music Settlement. In addition, she won the inaugural Wooster Chorus Composition Competition.
In 2013, she was invited to give a lecture-demonstration at the National Conference of the Society of Composers, Inc., at The Ohio State University. Later that year, she won the first Judy Nihlen Achievement Award of the Women's Committee for the Wooster Symphony Orchestra.
Wie's crowning achievement came when she composed and premiered her Jindo Arirang piano concerto, which she wrote for her Independent Study project, Wooster's nationally acclaimed mentored undergraduate research experience, with the Wooster Symphony. Her piece won first prize in the statewide 2014 Ohio Federation of Music Clubs Student/Collegiate Composers Composition Contest. In addition, she received an APEX fellowship and a Henry J. Copeland Fund grant to study, compose, and perform at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Brunswick, Maine, last summer, where she performed the premiere of Chung-Sung-Gok.
"Jungyoon is an outstanding composer and pianist who has demonstrated exceptional ability and achievement on campus and off, including international and statewide awards and recognition for composition," said Gallagher. "She has accepted a highly competitive full-tuition scholarship to enroll in the Master of Music degree program in composition at the University of Michigan, one of the elite programs in the field."
After completing her graduate studies, Wie is considering the possibility of teaching at the college level while continuing to freelance in composition, with the hope that her music may earn acclaim and be professionally performed and recorded.
In addition to composing, Wie was active in a number of other activities, including two years with the Wooster Chorus and Singers, two years as violinist with the Wooster Symphony, and two years as pianist with the Wooster Jazz Combo. She also was a piano accompanist for the modern dance and ballet class at the college; a pianist for all services at Central Christian Church in Wooster; a library attendant in the Scheide Music Center Music Library; and a periodic music-preparation specialist (music layout and typesetting) for Professor Jeffrey Lindberg and his Chicago Jazz Orchestra.
As for her four years at Wooster, Wie says they have had a dramatic impact on her development, "I've really appreciated the openness and flexibility here," she said. "It has provided a very productive and exciting learning environment."