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Born in 1996, Whan RI-AHN is a Korean

composer based in London, Paris and Aix-en-Provence.

Born in 1996 in Seoul, South Korea, with family roots tracing back to refugees from Sonchon, North Korea, Whan Ri-Ahn spent part of his childhood in New Zealand before returning to Korea. He then left for the United States and entered the Interlochen Arts Academy at the age of 14 to study composition.

He studied at the Royal College of Music in London (RCM) with Kenneth Hesketh. While there, he received the James Horner Award, the Dr. Knobel Fund Award and the RCM Scholarship Award. His studies at RCM were supported by Ms Sara Horner.


He continued his studies in Switzerland with Michael Jarrell, Luis Naón, and Gilbert Nouno at the Haute école de musique de Genève. It was during this time that one of his most significant encounters occurred when he was selected for the Tongyeong International Music Foundation's commission prize by Unsuk Chin, who became his greatest mentor. During an interview with Arnaud Merlin in Berlin (Radio France, Oct. 2022), Unsuk Chin remarked, "I see a great future emerging for Whan Ri-Ahn: he is brilliant."


Whan Ri-Ahn completed his Master's degree in composition at the Conservatoire de Paris (CNSMDP) in the composition class of Frédéric Durieux and electronic music with Yan Maresz, Luis Naón, and Grégoire Lorieux.

His compositions have been commissioned, performed and presented by renowned ensembles, institutions and musicians, such as Ensemble Contrechamps, Ensemble Modern, Ensemble TIMF, Ensemble Proton Bern, Ensemble NEXT, Radio France, France Musique, Pierre Bleuse, Aaron Cassidy and Johannes Kalitzke. His composition “L’Oiseau dans le Temps II” was premiered at Radio France’s Festival Présences 2023.


Whan Ri-Ahn was nominated among the candidates for Le Tremplin Musical 2023 of the Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco. He received the 2023 Marthe Depelsenaire Composition Prize from the Fondation de France. He also received the Prix de Composition de la Fondation Francis et Mica Salabert 2023.

He was appointed to the London Symphony Orchestra's Panufnik Scheme for the 2024/2025 season. He is currently pursuing his doctoral studies at King's College London under Sir George Benjamin. He also regularly receives tutoring from Unsuk Chin.

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