Getting To Know You: Alice Hu
Many of our patrons will have already encountered the delightful Alice Hu while booking tickets this year in her role as Music Events Assistant.
Alice has completed coursework in her combined Bachelor of Mathematics and Bachelor of Music, and is in the process of completing Honours in Music.
Alice works Tuesday-Thursday for UNSW Music Performance and is responsible for coordinating the box office. She also provides support for our events and operations including looking after rehearsal and operational logistics of the Australia Ensemble UNSW.
Alice has passions in sustainability and outreach and currently holds positions as a Student Assistant at the UNSW Centre for Sustainable Materials Research & Technology and Student Ambassador for UNSW Future Students. Out of hours, Alice likes to keep active as an avid netballer, Latin dancer, mathematics tutor and percussionist!
Alice, as a percussionist you must be versatile in many instruments. Which instrument is your favourite and why?
Without a doubt it’s the vibraphone, which is quite a versatile instrument in itself! It’s my favourite because I have so many fond memories attached to playing it, from some jazz to Emmanuel Séjourné’s Vibraphone Concerto, which I had the privilege to perform with the UNSW Orchestra in 2019.
I love the breadth of tone colours that the vibraphone can produce – it's one of the few percussion instruments with a pedal, which allows for greater expression in articulation and phrasing - and also how connected I feel to the world around me when I’m playing it. The wacky extended techniques are a bonus too!
Music and maths often go hand in hand. Can you explain the overlap and what drives your interest in these areas?
Yes, I do believe my studies in these two disciplines have complimented each other greatly. In terms of the overlap, there’s a great deal! Entire books have been written about the relationship between mathematics and music! I had the chance to explore mathematical processes in music composition as part of my Musicology stream coursework. It was fascinating to learn about the mathematical tools like set theory which have been harnessed by composers, for example Bach, Schönberg and Xenakis, to generate and vary musical material.
As a percussionist and mathematician, not only am I required to do a lot of counting but I do often adopt the same problem-solving mindset. For example, figuring out the optimal instrument set up is based on a set of parameters (the music, the space, the other players, composer’s instructions, etc.) and I often have to experiment in quite a methodical way (as I would in a mathematical proof) to come up with the best solution.
What drove my interest in music and maths was the promise of challenge and constant discovery. Maths is full of wonder and is essential to our understanding of other fields. Music is a universal language that holds lived experiences, history and culture. They are both equally creative and analytic and help connect us with the world around us.
What do you enjoy the most about your role so far at UNSW Music Performance?
I enjoy the community! It is simply lovely to feel like a part of a learning community, and it is quite beautiful to have a role in bringing people together on the UNSW campus to engage and share their love for music!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This question is so hard! This time last year I was recalled home from living and studying in Singapore as part of the New Colombo Plan Scholarship Program, an initiative by the Australian Government that supports Australian undergraduates to gain experience in the Indo Pacific region. I hope to return to the region and work in the education sector, with a particular interest in fostering interdisciplinary learning involving the Arts and reaching gender equity in STEM. I will always be passionate about learning and building community, so I will be sure to take challenging opportunities as they arise and always be engaging with music in any way possible!