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MOE Scholarship Student in Austria Becomes Assistant Chorus Master for the Dutch National Opera

MOE Scholarship Student Mao Kuo-Jen

“Studying abroad is not always easy, but all the great memories and experiences are so precious. All the tears and frustrations were worth it, and I think I have not only become a better musician, but I have also learned more about myself. I hope that one day I can share what I learned in Europe and work to help Taiwan's choirs grow even more!” - Mao Kuo-Jen 

Mao Kuo-Jen started studying Conducting in Austria at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz in 2015 and consequently enrolled in the Choral Conducting master’s degree program in 2019. By that time, he had already worked with local amateur choirs. For example, in 2016 he organized a young Afghan refugee choir in Graz, sponsored by the Basel Children and Youth Choir Festival. Like many other students he was gravely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. All choir rehearsals were banned during the pandemic and this presented him with a huge financial challenge. Luckily, he was awarded a Ministry of Education scholarship which enabled him to focus on his studies during this difficult time. During his scholarship period, he gained further valuable work experience, for example working as an accompanist in the choir of the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, and as an assistant conductor, conducting a 100-member choir and orchestra.
In 2021, he was invited to conduct the Taiwan National Choir performing a German repertoire. This offered him a chance to share what he had learned while studying and working in Austria with music professionals in Taiwan. In the same year, he also participated in international master classes with the German choral conductor Frieder Bernius, the Norwegian choral conductor Grete Pedersen, and the Italian conductor Lorenzo Donati. He has already conducted several professional choirs, such as the Stuttgart Choir, the Norwegian Soloists, the Slovenian Philharmonic Choir, and the Taiwan National Choir.
The scholarship also provided him with the opportunity to attend more international masterclasses and he successfully graduated from the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz with a master's degree in 2022 and then began the Advanced Studies - Choral Conducting postgraduate program.
Mao Kuo-Jen has been working as the assistant chorus master in the Dutch National Opera since the end of September 2023. Dr. Elisa Hsiang-Yueh Wang, the Director of the Education Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Austria, always kept in touch with him while he was studying in Austria, and when he was offered the chance to work in Amsterdam as assistant chorus master in the Dutch National Opera, he told Dr. Wang. Dr. Wang congratulated him on behalf of Ministry of Education and wished him a bright future.
During his studies, he also learned about Austrian and European culture. This helped him to progress professionally and to gain a lot in terms of inner growth in the last few years. He met many wonderful people and made friendships and these connections also supported him during his more difficult times abroad. He expressed his deep gratitude to the Ministry of Education for its generous support and for enabling him to fulfill his dream.