HONOLULU SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Cellist Maria, left, pianist Lucia and violinist Angella Ahn return to Hawaii to share their music.
More Ahn-believable nights
It was three years ago to the month that three young Korean-American women made an impact on the local classical music audience.
Sisters Lucia, Maria and Angella Ahn presented a contemporary-themed "Ahn-Plugged" concert at the Blaisdell Concert Hall that ran the gamut from romanticism to rock 'n' roll. The combination of their simpatico interplay and glamorous stage presence made the Ahn Trio instant favorites with the night's gathering.
With the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, Samuel Wong conducting
» When: 8 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Sunday
» Where: Blaisdell Concert Hall
» Tickets: $22 to $73
» Call: 792-2000
One of the concert's highlights was the imagistic "Swing Shift: Music for Evening Hours," composed by their friend and fellow Juilliard graduate Kenji Bunch. Bunch will be in attendance this weekend at the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra's concerts, as the Ahn Trio returns to Honolulu, this time to perform his "Hardware Concerto" as featured guests with the orchestra.
Speaking by phone from her New York City home, Angella Ahn remembered that Bunch's triple concerto was written in May 2002, the same year of their Hawaii visit. "It's been revived a bit since then," she said. "Last year, we played it with the Louisville Symphony."
And like most of the venturesome material the trio is known to champion, Ahn describes the "Hardware Concerto" "as anything but regular. The reason it's called that is that we use so many electronic hardware in our instrumentation. Besides the grand piano, Lucia also plays a keyboard. And Maria and I both of use pickups on our cello and violin for some amplification. I even play a wah-wah pedal for my violin. I think this piece is the future of concertos and classical music, with the use of very new elements. And it's so cool," she said with a delighted laugh.
"The concerto's middle movement is the most traditional sounding, a huge, romantic, lush-sounding movement. But the first starts off right away with the hardware. It's kind of exciting, it's the Bollywood section. And the third movement is the funk section. The whole thing is pretty great, mixing all kinds of genres."
AFTER THE TRIO'S initial splash four years ago when they moved from a standard classical repertoire and look to a contemporary approach in music and fashion, the sisters have been busy since '02 constantly evolving their artistry.
"Two of the biggest projects we're working on now," said Ahn, "is one, we've started a huge collaboration with the David Parsons Dance Company, based in New York City. What's fun about it is that a lot of dance companies nowadays are using live music in their performances. It's more exciting that way, as we are on stage at the same time as the dancers, and there have been some amazing responses to that."
The trio's other concern is LAM Records, the name being an acronym for the first letters of their names. "We are making our own record company. It's been in the works for months, and we're excited because it shows we're ready to be creative in our business affairs and to show our faces. ... We're just putting together the whole structure of the company, laying out the plans for the first album, then find which way to distribute it, which will probably be some mix of major label and Internet marketing.
"The album's going to be called 'A Lullaby for My Favorite Insomniac,' a collection of really beautiful pieces for both insomniacs and non-insomniacs. It'll go along the same lines as our last two albums, 'Ahn-Plugged' and 'Groovebox,' featuring original, intelligent music. We'll start recording in just about a month or two, and first release the album in Korea next spring, and then the U.S. in the fall of 2006."
The trio also takes its first foray out of the contemporary classical scene with its collaboration with a rock band. "After Hawaii and a couple of performances in the States, we'll be going to Prague to work with an alternative rock band called the Tata Boys, who are very well-known in the Czech Republic. We'll rehearse and do some demos with them, and then do a joint tour in the U.S. and Asia."
LIKE their first trip to the islands, the Ahn Trio did a couple of educational workshops, this time at Iolani and Moanalua schools, earlier this week.
Remembering their own traditional training at Juilliard, Ahn says that "as we've gotten older, we've developed our own voices and sense of style."
"Our audience has been growing with us as well over the years. People are relating to our music, concept and philosophy, and as we gain more experience, we feel more confident."