Born in Beijing, Wang Yan attended the primary school affiliated with the Central Conservatory of Music (Beijing) at age 10. She went on to attend the affiliated middle and high schools before graduating in 1981 and being admitted to the Conservatory itself.
She graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music with honours in 1985. In the same year, she was named Principal Cello of the China Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra. She joined the Singapore Symphony Orchestra in 1994.
Alongside her performances with SSO, Wang Yan was also a member of the Jade Quartet and Feng Trio for about 20 years, with whom she performed at many important State occasions.
She has also worked as a part-time radio DJ on Singapore’s UFM 100.3, hosting a programme of classical music and interviews with musicians.
Highlights of her career with the SSO include being one of a select group of SSO musicians to take part in an exchange programme with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra in 2013, and performing with the world-famous Borodin Quartet in October 2018.
The Straits Times has said she displays “playing of exceptional beauty and a tone to die for.”