The Ahn Trio


Story by Barbara Angelakis
Photos courtesy of bergenPAC

Bergen Performing Arts Center
30 North VanBrunt Street
Englewood, New Jersey 07631
Phone 201-227-1030

Ahn with instruments


The Ahn Trio Plays David Bowie & Beyond

Last night I saw a sister act at bergenPAC! Not like Patty, Maxene and LaVerne (Andrews Sisters) or Phyllis, Dorothy and Christine (McGuire Sisters) but Maria, Lucia and Angella Ahn, none of whom sing, but nevertheless made beautiful music together.

Bergen Performing Arts Center aka bergenPAC is a premier performance and performing arts education space in Englewood, New Jersey that features all manner of performing artists; from raunchy musicals to classical dance; to theatrical performances; to acts of pure artistry; such as the Ahn Trio.

The three Ahn sisters were born in Korea and moved to America as children. All graduated from Julliard School of Music and have been performing together for more than 20 years. Maria plays the cello; Lucia, her twin sister, plays piano; and Angella, the youngest, is a violinist. Having named their instruments of choice in no way defines their approach to music. Classically trained, their repertoire consists of music written specifically for their very special talents; to classical pieces; to popular music arranged in a classical format; which they call fusion. Angella plays the violin with amazing speed and dexterity making the bow fly across the strings so fast one can hardly catch the action. Lucia assails the piano with passion when needed and the lightest touch, as if caressing a lover, when that is required. And Maria is clearly one with her cello creating sounds that come from her very heart and vibrate out of her instrument.

The program opened with “Yuryung”, written by jazz guitarist Pat Metheny for the trio which set the mood for the evening. To hear these 3 vibrant women in such command of their instruments producing sounds singly and together that resonated throughout the auditorium, was positively thrilling.

Ahn White Clothes

They continued with “Lullaby For My Favorite Insomniac” written for them by Kenji Bunch against a back-drop of a short film by Gabriel Judet-Weinshel called “Heart is a Hidden Camera”.  But the next piece “Swing Shift” also written for them by composer Kenji Bunch, left me and the audience breathless. The 6 movements again took full advantage of their virtuosity and passion and was an awesome tour de force.

Maria is especially fond of David Bowie’s music and in 2014 released a five-track EP featuring her interpretations of Bowie songs. The album was named “Je T’aime Bowie” (I love you Bowie) where she played all of 8 separate layered tracks. For the performance of the piece last night, invited to share the stage with Maria were 9 members of the New Jersey Youth Symphony Orchestra, Cello Section.

It was my first experience of hearing a 10 cello composition and the arrangement by Mark Baechle, a young composer/arranger, took full advantage of the unique sounds Maria is capable of producing… sounds I never heard before. Maria at one point ran her fingers up and down the strings making tinkling sounds like fairy bells… from a cello!

The program ended with two David Bowie pieces “This is Not America” arranged by Pat Metheny and Jurgen Dahmen; “Space Oddity” arranged by Kenji Bunch; and a Prince piece - also arranged by Kenji Bunch - the artists signature piece “Purple Rain”.

The Ahn Trio released their first album in 1995 entitled “Paris Rio”. Since then they have released “Ahn-Plugged”, “Groovebox” and “Lullaby for My Favorite Insomniac” and plan to release a new album this fall.

All in all it was a spectacular evening, the kind I have grown to expect from bergenPAC.




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