Ahn Trio


Active: 1989
The Ahn Trio is a lively and innovative piano trio (violin, cello, and piano) comprising three Korean-American sisters.

The pun-loving Ahns, who were born in South Korea's capital, describe themselves as Seoul Sisters. They all played piano as soon as they could reach the keys. "A dominant musical gene has obviously left its imprint on the sisters Ahn," the Los Angeles Times would say years later.

Two of them, Maria and Lucia, are twins, and the third, Angella, is two years younger. When Lucia turned "really serious about the piano" at the age of seven, the other sisters started playing string instruments. Angella took up violin, while Maria chose cello because it was "beautiful and exotic ? besides, it was bigger than my sister's violin!"

They first played in public as an ensemble on South Korean television in 1979, moved to the United States, and enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in 1981. They came to national attention when they were featured in 1987 Time Magazine article on "Asian-American Whiz Kids," and were soon featured on NBC Television as part of its coverage of the Seoul Olympic Games.

In 1992, they won top prizes at the Alliance Northeast Competition for Chamber Ensembles and the Coleman Chamber Competition. Since then, they have been featured on PBS television and National Public Radio. Their slim good looks and stylish stage appearance have also landed them in Vogue, GQ, and Town and Country magazines.

Their first recording was of the Ravel and Villa-Lobos piano trios, and received widespread approval from critics. Their EMI recording of trios by Suk, Dvorak, and Shostakovich won the ECHO Award in Germany. They are now exclusive artists for EMI.

They have an active life concertizing, appearing over a hundred times a year in such venues as the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, the Seoul Arts Centre, Victoria Concert Hall in Singapore, and Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow.

They are deeply interested in bringing classical music to younger children, and often appear at elementary schools while they are touring. Rather than presenting themselves in concert form at schools, they call their appearances "music workshops" and talk back and forth with the children about the music.

They brought their music to an entirely new audience when they appeared on an MTV Bryan Adams Unplugged concert. The audience response was so pleasing, that they sought a way to bring that sort of performance to live classical concerts, resulting in a touring concept called "AhnPlugged." The first of these concerts was held at Miller Theater of Columbia University on October 13, 1998. These concerts include anything from standard trio repertory like Tchaikovsky's Elegiac Trio to non-classical music. They welcome all types of audience, with no dress code, and don't mind if they get up and dance in the aisles. "AhnPlugged is absolutely let-go-of-everything and just listen to the music. We don't even have the specific pieces programmed; we will be announcing them as we go along," said Angella.

The Ahn Trio is strongly interested in classical music in its own time, and frequently plays trio works by Eric Ewazen (Trio for piano and strings), Dan Coleman (Rhapsody Revolved), and Kenji Bunch (Concerto for Piano Trio and Orchestra) and have commissioned works from Michael Nyman, Paul Schoenfield, John Musto, and John Zorn.

Their first AhnPlugged album (EMI) was released in June 2000. Their touring plans for the Caribbean, Korea, Europe, and Australia will include AhnPlugged events: "We love turning people on to good classical music, because good classical music rocks!" says Angela.