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The Week Ahead

Ready ... Ahn one and Ahn two and Ahn three

January 15, 2007|Lynne Heffley

Five premiere works and one of the most glamorous and hip sister acts in classical music -- the gifted Ahn Trio -- define this year's Laguna Beach Music Festival.

Running today through Friday at the Laguna Beach Artists' Theatre and other venues, the eclectic festival features classical music with Latin, jazz and impressionistic flavors in a three-concert lineup of new works written by composers Fernando Otero, David Benoit, Paul Chihara and Nguyen Le for the Korean sisters (pianist Lucia and cellist Maria, who are twins, and violinist Angella).

"I have to say this is a festival of many firsts," said Angella Ahn, speaking by phone from New York, the trio's home base. "We've never had a composer write a piece for us and then name each movement after us," she said, referring to Chihara's "Orchids," with each movement titled for a different sister.

"We've also never played at a festival where we're doing five premieres. So it's pretty exciting and a huge project."

Classical music from a contemporary, multicultural viewpoint is par for the course for the thirtysomething Ahns, whose latest EMI Classics CD is called "Groovebox."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday January 16, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 36 words Type of Material: Correction
Ahn Trio: A Week Ahead item in Monday's Calendar section about the Ahn Trio performing at the Laguna Beach Music Festival misspelled the last names of composers Astor Piazzolla and Chick Corea as Piazzola and Correa.

Chihara, a noted concert and film composer, said he paid tribute to the Ahns' gifts as musicians and to Hollywood film music with his three themes in "Orchids": a melody by Hugo Friedhofer from the post-World War II classic film "The Best Years of Our Lives"; the tragic Korean folk ballad "Arirang," the first song to be used in a Korean film; and Chihara's own theme from the TV movie "Farewell to Manzanar," about life in the Japanese American relocation camps of World War II.

"Given whom I'm writing it for," Chihara said, the mood isn't tragic but "seductive, with moments of fleeting sadness." In particular, "Angella," the passionate second movement tango, "shows off something of the flamboyance and flair that these remarkably talented young ladies bring to their music-making."

For their part, the Juilliard-educated Ahns, on People magazine's list of the "50 Most Beautiful People" in 2003, are as passionate about shaking off classical music's elitist image as they are about the music itself.

"It's not just us," Ahn said. "I feel like it's sort of what's happening in our time. A lot of barriers are becoming less and less defined. You see it in music, in the arts, in literature, in food. I think it's just inevitable."

The Ahn Trio will also play works by Piazzola, Leonard Bernstein, Chick Correa, Kenji Bunch and Maurice Jarre, among others, in the festival concerts. Workshops, talks, a symposium, a master class and other related events are also on tap.



-- Lynne Heffley

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