Translated by Kelly Choi
“ Asian-American Whiz Kids” 1987 New York Times cover page From classical chamber music to all genres 14th, Wednesday 8PM, Tuckerman Hall
The performance by the Ahn trio will be held at Tuckerman Hall on Wednesday April 14th, at 8.
During the performance, the Ahn trio will perform selections from their album Braziliahn Project Songs, “The Ghost” written by a jazz guitarist, and songs from "Lullaby for my Favorite Insomniac".
The Ahn Trio, perhaps unfamiliar to some Koreans, is a classical piano Trio. However, they go beyond classical chamber music, taking influences from many different genres and world music traditions.
Three sisters, Angella (Violin), Lucia (Piano), and Maria (Cello), first gained a popular following when they were featured in the cover story, “Asian-American Whiz Kids,” in 1987.
A groundbreaking trio, they never hesitate to take a new approach to music. They do not discriminate between traditional and non-traditional genres for chamber music. They combine elements from classical music with elements from diverse genres.
They have performed Brazilian Samba and Bossanova, and have even sampled disco and boogie in their song, “Danceband.”
The press describe the Ahn trio as a “Declaration of freedom to Classical music” and “newly defining the art and the structure of chamber music”. The three sisters enjoy a sense of artistic adventure. However, traditional-minded audiences might not welcome the Ahn trio.
Despite this fact, the Ahn trio are beloved by fans for their creative performances. They won colman concours in 1991, and ECHO Award in Germany in 1998.
The Ahn Trio founded their own record company in 2006. Later, the first album “"Lullaby for my Favorite Insomniac" ranked 8th on Billbord classical chart for half of year.
The Ahn sisters were raised in modest immigrant home. Their parent ran a Dry Cleaners to support his daughters. Their upbringing is a sterling example of how parents’ respect and a liberal education can lead to a more successful standing among second generation Korean-Americans.
“I am not too familiar with the Korean community in Boston, but I hope many Koreans can come and enjoy our performance” Angella Ahn said in a phone interview.
An email interview with the Ahn Trio follows.
What music will you play at this concert? I could not find any substantial concert information on the poster or Worcester Music website. What genre of music should the concert attendees expect to hear on April 14th? What types of pieces will you be performing?
(Angella) We will play some music from our latest project, BraziliAHN. Really beautiful original music written for us by amazing Brazilian composers and famous Brazilian tunes transcribed for us by Brazilian composers (like Insensatez). We will also be playing a work by Kenji Bunch, a Juilliard colleague, who we consider to be the modern day Bernstein. He wrote a piece called "danceband" for us recently, a suite of 5 dances including the Disco Boogie! We will also be performing a piece that Pat Metheny, the legendary jazz guitarist, wrote for us with a Korean title "Yuryung". Also included will be some selections from our most recent album, "Lullaby for My Favorite Insomniac". We hope lots of our Korean fans will come hear all of this unique, emotional and beautiful music!
I read the news on the Ahn Trio web site regarding the BraziliAHN Project Concert at the University of Florida in Gainesville on Feb 27th. Will we hear the same Samba and Bosanova at this concert?
(Maria) Yes, we may surprise you and play some of that music, come check it out!
Your Latest project album was "Smetana", but I am really interested in your 2008 album "Lullaby for My Favorite Insomniac", which made No. 8 on the Billboard Charts for 26 weeks in the classical album category. Can you tell us about this album, and give a background, such as what inspired you to make it?
(Lucia) It was inspired by the title track called Lullaby for My Favorite Insomniac, which is an original work written by Kenji Bunch. The very first time we heard it the Trio decided we must do an album filled with intensely emotional and powerful lullaby-like pieces. It was a great project where we produced the music ourselves for the first time. We recorded it in beautiful Prague where it was snowing everyday. To be recording in such an environment was very important in creating the right color for the album. Many composers participated in the album and we also worked with singers and sound designers. It was a great collaborative album.
According to your Bio, The Ahn Trio is constantly redefining the art and architecture of chamber music. Why you pursue such music? What motivates you?
(Maria) I'm not sure if we're constantly "redefining art and architecture of chamber music" as it is probably a phrase that was used by the media at one point to describe us, but we are constantly evolving and like being adventurous with our music projects. We are explorative by nature and enjoy taking risks. We don’t feel limited by what a piano trio can or cannot do, but rather love to stretch the possibilities of a piano trio. We take on projects that we feel passionate about and have a great time exploring them.
I heard that you visited South Korea in 2008. How was the concert in Korea? What was the most impressive thing on that tour. What memories/lasting impressions do you have from that trip/concert?
(Lucia) It was a holiday concert so we were planning to do some Christmas songs. It turned out that a very famous Korean pop singer, Yoon Sang was going to be in Seoul and he ended up singing at our concert. We also had Juno Kang, an electronic music artist join us for a few pieces. He has done a remix of “This is Not America on our Lullaby” album. It was a very special concert because of our wonderful guest artists and apart from that, I really enjoyed spending time with my grandmother.
It is very interesting that three sisters are playing music all together even if you play different instrument. What role did you parents play in your careers?
(Maria) Our parents loved classical music and took us to many concerts, but there wasn’t a grand plan of us becoming a trio. Lucia saw the piano in the kindergarten and decided that she wanted to learn how to play it. When Lucia started, Angella and I also wanted to take lessons to learn an instrument, but not the same one. So, we chose the violin and cello, respectively. The funny thing is our parents had no idea that these instruments made up a piano trio! When we were younger, we played together from time to time but didn’t consider being a professional trio until many years later. It was during our studies at Juilliard when we had both a record company and a concert booking manager approach us with offers. Our parents gave us a lot of support for doing what we love, to believe in ourselves and raised us to be strong, independent and rebellious minds.
It is very difficult to play music with amongst sisters. How do you get over the differences, and how have you managed to play together over such a long period?
(Angella) Playing with your siblings is both euphoric and difficult. We have this sixth sense when it comes to making music and I believe we wouldn't even have to look at each other and we would be able to read each other's musical thoughts. Of course, being sisters means we're not always so careful or diplomatic when we discuss things, so we have had to learn how to treat each other professionally rather than like siblings. But being together and making music really is a wonderful way to travel and see the world.
Please give some advice Korean Americans youths who dream of a career in music like yours.
(Lucia) 1. Believe in yourself, 2. Practice, 3. Love what you do, 4. Spend lots of time in concert halls, theatres, galleries, opera houses, etc… and let all the great art forms inspire you!
The website is very interesting and fun. I was laughing when I saw it. Do you enjoy humor?
(Lucia) We love our website! It's designed by a Hungarian designer Tamas Kosa. A good sense of humor is really important to us. Life would be so boring if you couldn't enjoy yourself or laugh out loud all the time.
The Ahn Trio will be performing on April 14th at Tuckerman Hall, 10 Tuckerman Street, Worcester, MA. For tickets or information, call 508-754-3231 or visit www.musicworcester.org. Tickets are $36-$39. Student pricing is $20 per ticket.