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April 27, 2024 5 min read


Yen-Nien Hsu is a multi-faceted musician (and leap-year baby) based in NYC. At 7 years old, she participated in orchestra performances on violin and piano and in the choir. However, it wasn’t until high school that Hsu discovered acting and theatre, leading her to attend Berklee NYC for Writing and Design for Musical Theatre and pick up pop music production. Now, Hsu has written many shows, namely The Night With a Ghost, a play from the 5th dimension with Taiwanese folk elements, and Vincent, a musical about a boy diagnosed with ADHD navigating his world. Her advice to young artists? “Don’t overthink – explore everything you like as much as you can!” Read on to learn more about Yen-Nien Hsu and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 

Name:   Yen-Nien Hsu

Heritage:   Taiwanese

Hometown:   Taiwan, Tainan

Current City:   New York City

Current project:   Musicals include VincentThe Pied Piper’s Return, and International Students.

What are some of your favorite credits/projects: 

“The Night With a Ghost” the play 


“The Night With a Ghost” is my graduation project in my college. I was a music director, composer, orchestrator, and guitarist in this project

“The Night With a Ghost” takes a comedic story and moves it to the fifth dimension, making ghosts the main characters with humans being supporting characters. In this particular time and space, we follow the desires and obsessions of the ghosts and spirits in a story surrounding reincarnation. 

This was my first project. I was a leader in the music department, and because of this, I had the chance to apply all the music knowledge and techniques I learned in my college years. Since this story is set in the spiritual world of traditional Taiwanese folk religion, Taiwanese folk instruments make up a large part of the music in the show to help create and transport audiences into that world. Western instruments are incorporated for a more diversified sound, adding different colors to the traditional palette that folk instruments provide. It is an appropriate match for the comedy and absurdity in the story, and it gives the audience a new sound experience. 

This project holds personal significance for me, offering invaluable lessons and insights that will undoubtedly shape my future endeavors in music composition.


“Vincent” the musical

“Vincent” follows a preteen named Vinnie who has recently been diagnosed with ADHD as he struggles in a school system not built for his success. Along the way, he finds confidence in his love for the arts and learns the importance of using his voice with the help of his imaginary friend Vincent Van Gogh. Accompanied by a pop-rock contemporary score, this is a journey of finding identity and self-acceptance that challenges others to look beyond the surface of everyone they meet. 

I've been working on this project with my co-writer Gabi Ammirato. I’m writing music, and Gabi is writing books and lyrics.

Having completed our initial draft, Gabi and I are currently in the rewriting phase. We eagerly anticipate holding a reading later this year!


Any advice for young people getting into the arts?

Don’t overthink – explore everything you like as much as you can! Give yourself some pressure at the right time, and, of course, some rest. Just keep going, as long as you feel comfortable and on the right track!

How did you get your start?

I come from a classical music background. I began playing violin and piano in orchestras and participated in the choir when I was 7 years old. During high school, I delved into acting and theatre, discovering a new passion. When I entered college, I started learning pop music production. Meanwhile, I played guitar in numerous school musical productions. It was during this time that I was exposed to musical theatre and began my journey as a musical composer.

Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you'd like to share?

My favorite moment is the opportunity to meet and collaborate with diverse talents. Before I came to New York to study, I usually wrote by myself, but after I came here I had lots of opportunities to work with different artists. Each artist brings their own background and perspective to the table, resulting in a thrilling collision of thoughts and ideas. Witnessing the fusion of creativity from various sources is both cool and truly amazing!

What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?

I struggle with socializing and lack boldness, which sometimes hinders me from seizing opportunities. However, I'm gradually overcoming this by embracing challenges and learning to express myself more positively.

What are some interesting facts about yourself?

I’m a leap-year baby! My birthday is on Feb. 29th and I really love it!

Do you have any mentors?

My college adviser, Sam Lee, is the person who led me into a deeper world of music and writing. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn't met him in my sophomore year.

When did you know you wanted to have a career in the arts?

When I decided to study abroad for musical theatre writing. 

Is where you are now where you thought you’d be?

To be honest, NEVER! I never thought about starting my music career in the US, this is way more than I thought.

Do you have any side projects you’d like to highlight?

“I Want to Go Back to Taiwan So Bad” and “Dokodemo Door.” These two music videos are my small projects. I really enjoy doing these kinds of cute and short music videos. I consider this to be my relaxation session, to record myself at different stages! You can check out my music video on my YouTube channelhere.

Where did you study at?

Berklee NYC Writing and Design for Musical Theatre.


How do you think your creative process has changed over time?

I used to do lyrics first and write songs on guitar because it’s my main instrument. 

In my graduate school course, professors encouraged us to approach writing in different ways. I started to write with piano or do music first. Sometimes I started from patterns, and sometimes from hooks. All methods gave me surprise and led me to a place I’d never been!

What do you find creates the most inspiration for your music?

Depression. For me, depression is the truest feeling in my life and it’ll live forever.

What inspires you?

Weather, flowers, dogs, strangers, love, or life. Everything in this world, as small as a cell, as large as a galaxy. I’m a sensitive person, easily touched by anything, and start a little self-journey in my head.

To find out more on Yen-Nien Hsu, please visit her at: 

Instagram:  @yennien_



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