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JCSO to welcome Ahn Trio

Press Tempo Writer

MILLIGAN COLLEGE — The Johnson City Symphony Orchestra opens its concert season Saturday at 8 p.m. at Seeger Chapel with special guests the Ahn Trio.

The Julliard-educated Koreaborn sisters, chamber musicians and recording artists are known as much for their innovation as their style.

Violinist Angella, pianist Lucia and cellist Maria have been hailed by People Magazine as three of the magazine’s 50 most beautiful people, written about in Time as Asian-American whiz kids and have appeared on the fashion pages of Vogue and GQ.

Their mission to encourage children to study classical music is as strong as their mission to work with new composers and arrangers. Their concerts are dramatic collaborations with dancers, pop singers, painters, artists, lighting designers, ecologists and kite makers, to name a few.

They will perform the “Hardware Concerto” by composer and Julliard friend Kenji Bunch with the JCSO and give a solo performance of The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm” and a work by the late Argentinean composer Astor Piazzola. The JCSO will perform Brahms’ “Academic Festival Overture,” “The March and Procession of Bacchus” by Delibes and “Variations on a Theme” by Haydn.

The trio members live in New York and have been touring and performing together for more than a decade. Angella said that despite the occasional spats, they still love touring because they love being on stage. They’ve been performing together since they were toddlers and have survived because they’ve learned to put a value on being alone and working on solo projects. The good days outweigh the bad and having similar taste helps keep them close, she said with a laugh.

Their desires to experiment and incorporate the various arts evolved and was inspired by living in New York, where there are artists and cultures of all kinds, and also by being an immigrant. You feel selfish there if you don’t collaborate, she said. New York is crowded, noisy and “stinky,” but they love it. They weren’t intimidated by the talent there when they were starting out, and they are not now. Walking down the street is an education.

“It’s so easy, so effortless to get inspired,” she said. “I think that’s why we live in New York.”

The three movement “Hardware Concerto” is based on the traditional classical trio format, but it features an amplified violin and cello. The first movement features “Baliwoodstyle” Indian music, the second movement beautiful traditional music and the third a “funk” style. It also highlights Bunch’s interest in exploring the JCSO as a rhythm section.

“We’re a band in front of the orchestra,” Angella said. “The orchestra is kind of the groove behind us.”

Recorded music is nice, but she thinks it’s important to see live music, to see the “sweat” on a musician’s face. Their parents weren’t musicians, but they took the sisters to as many art and music events as possible, which is why they are the creative people they are, she said.

Tom Stites, JCSO conductor, said the orchestra members are excited about playing music they haven’t played before and working extra hard to do it. He expects the Ahn Trio will help new audiences connect with classical music.

“They are each phenomenal players. They play with a unique style and stage presence that makes each of their performances not only memorable but also unique as an experience,” Stites said. “We have had calls from 200 miles away from fans who are traveling to Johnson City to hear them again live. The JCSO is sponsoring an outreach program in local schools for the trio with performances at Dobyns-Bennett High School and Science Hill High School for local instrument students. We hope this will help inspire our young musicians to attain professional status in music performance.”

He said the town has been given a singular gift this year: the chance to see first-rank talent for a fraction of the cost of attending a classical music concert at a major venue.

“I feel that classical music is a vibrant art form, not a museum piece. Each of our performers this season brings unique and current works that I feel will help our area become the cultural mecca that it is capable of becoming,” Stites said. “For so many people, their perception of a serious concert is based on a limited number of forced experiences in school. With performers like the Ahn Trio, Edgar Meyer, Rick Simerly, The Invencia Duo and Matt Palmer, we hope to open people to the wide diversity and excitement that really is classical music.”

For tickets or more information, call 926-8742 or visit www.jcsymphony.com.

Johnson City Press Article


MILLIGAN UNIVERSITY is a Christian liberal arts university in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The university offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan University, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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