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Tasmanian born Allison Bell makes her MSO debut later this month at the Metropolis New Music Festival held at Monash University’s Robert Blackwood Hall. She talks about the music of Unsuk Chin, and where her incredible talent came from.

I absolutely cannot wait to perform the Australian premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Puzzles and Games for my MSO debut! It’s truly a wonderful piece that whisks you away into the world of Alice in Wonderland. It’s surreal and just so much fun! I’m a huge fan of Unsuk’s work. I performed a piece by her at Dark Mofo a few years ago, and I find her music to be so unique and sophisticated, while remaining totally accessible for the audience. Her writing is atmospheric and full of mischief.

Performing in Melbourne is so fantastic and getting to perform this brilliant contemporary repertoire in my home country means so much. Melbourne is one of my all-time favourite cities; it really has everything from world class and innovative culture, beautiful architecture and scenery within the CBD to one of the best food scenes in the world. I love spending time in this city.

I always knew I was destined for a life of music. From the moment I could talk I was singing… No one in my family sang and there was never any music in our house. When I started school the teacher asked my mother, “Who is the musician in your house, because Allison sings to herself in class non-stop!”

Luckily that particular teacher believed in channelling my noise rather than suppressing it! She happened to be friends with a local music teacher who ran a children’s choir and I sang with them from the ages of 6 to 16, when I left home to study at University. That music teacher, Rennie Herbert, instilled in me not just a curiosity and love for music and culture but literally devoted her life to becoming the surrogate mother to a great many kids, like myself, who came from very poor, dysfunctional backgrounds in rural Tasmania. She gave us not just music but a sense of hope, self-worth and self-discipline. And she’s still there for me today, aged 93, whenever I need advice or moral support!

Metropolis New Music Festival is presented in partnership with Monash University


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