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10 Questions for Unsuk Chin

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There is no mistaking the music of Unsuk Chin. Born in Korea and based in Berlin, Chin brings a range of cultural perspectives to her work. She often describes her music in terms of light and colour, and evokes dreamscapes when recalling her inspirations. Yet her music also has a strong gestural quality, her musical ideas are clear and definite, often subtle but never ambiguous.

It is an approach that has won her many admirers and advocates, among them some of classical music's biggest names, including Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Gustavo Dudamel. And she has received numerous awards, most notably the Grawemeyer in 2004, often described as the Nobel Prize of classical music.

UK audiences have had several opportunities to hear her music in recent years. Her Cello Concerto was premiered at the BBC Proms in 2010 by Alban Gerhardt, followed in the 2014 season by a performance of Šu, her concerto for sheng (the traditional Chinese mouth organ) and orchestra given by soloist Wu Wei and the Seoul Philharmonic. In 2011, the BBC Symphony Orchestra organised a full day of concerts devoted to Chin's music, showcasing the vast array of influences and ideas that have contributed to her music over the last two decades.

Unsuk Chin has had a particularly high profile this year as a result of her first opera, Alice in Wonderland. The piece dates back to 2007, but a new multimedia staging of the opera by Netia Jones toured to several cities around the world, and played to a capacity audience in London.

Ilan VolkovDance is at the heart of her latest piece, little wonder perhaps, given the focus on gesture and movement in all her music. The work, entitled Mannequin, has been commissioned by the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. They will be giving the premiere on 9 April in Gateshead, in a concert led by the enterprising young Israeli conductor Ilan Volkov.

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