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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, October 18, 2002

Musical Ahn sisters revel in being unconventional

By Vicki Viotti
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Ahn Trio is composed of sisters who take their classical music very seriously but with an audience-friendly attitude. The three make their Honolulu concert debut Monday at the Blaisdell Concert Hall.


Featuring the Ahn Trio

11 a.m. (youth concert) and 7 p.m. (public concert) Monday

Blaisdell Concert Hall

$15 (youth concert); $27-$57 (public concert)

526-4400 (tickets); 536-1539 (information)

The Ahn sisters are a little sick of hearing that they're classical musicians for the MTV generation.

Not so, they say. This music is the right stuff, the real stuff.

OK, so the South Korea-born Ahn Trio opts for lighting that departs from the white spotlight on a dark stage, and their outfits sometimes bear hallmarks of video culture.

But hey, the masters would approve. At least, the violinist, cellist and pianist making their Hawai'i performing debut Monday say they would.

"We don't like white lights," admitted Maria Ahn, cellist for the trio, in a telephone interview during their Korea tour. "We don't believe if Mozart was living today he would like the white, uninviting atmosphere."

It is not only the ghosts of the greats that the Ahn Trio must impress. Since the 1998 launch of their "Ahn-Plugged" project, the sisters primarily have championed living classical composers. They work with these composers and commission new works, premiering "The Diamond World" by Eric Ewazen and Kenji Bunch's "Concerto for Piano Trio and Orchestra."

"'Ahn-Plugged' is about giving recognition to young brilliant composers not getting enough attention," said Maria's twin, pianist Lucia.

Both that CD and their latest release, "Groovebox," also tip the hat to certain known commodities, namely Leonard Bernstein, David Bowie and The Doors. But the sisters freely admit that they don't keep up with most current music trends.

"I think I'm old-fashioned," said the violinist, Angella, 31. "We love David Bowie — he's so unique. He's always doing something new ... and he's so versatile."

This is the first Hawai'i visit for Maria and Lucia but not for Angella, who has vacationed here with her boyfriend, a former resident, and who hopes to live here someday.

All three are in relationships, a fact that might dismay some of their ardent devotees at whom their high-fashion glam publicity pictures clearly are aimed. Still, they hope that even the fans first attracted by their looks stay for other reasons.

"My favorite, favorite line from a review said that 'Even if they were three ugly men they would still have this amazing career,' "Angella recalled. "I hope that people do see beyond that."