Allan Gordon Bell was born in Calgary in 1953. He received a Master of Music degree from the University of Alberta where he studied with Violet Archer, Malcolm Forsyth, and Manus Sasonkin. He also did advanced studies in composition at the Banff Centre for the Arts where his teachers were Jean Coulthard, Bruce Mather, and Oskar Morawetz.
He has created works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, orchestra, band, and electroacoustic media. In the works of Bell one can hear the influences of prairie cultures and scenes and the sounds of nature, which he illustrates with orchestration. His works have been performed by many professional and amateur organizations in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, West Germany, Israel, and Japan. In 1992, his An Elemental Lyric was performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, the Kennedy Centre in Washington, D.C., and Symphony Hall in Boston. CBC Records has released a CD entitled Spirit Trail: The Music of Allan Gordon Bell that contains five of his orchestral pieces
In 2012, for his contribution to Canadian contemporary classical music and culture, Bell was made a Member of the Order of Canada. Previously, The Association of Canadian Choral Conductors had presented him with an award for outstanding choral compositions (in 1994 and again in 1999). He has also been the recipient of numerous teaching excellence awards.
In 2014, Bell received a Juno Award for his Field Notes in the Classical Composition of the Year category.
From 1985 to the present, he has been a professor of composition and music theory at the University of Calgary and continues to compose.