Ahn Trio at Edison Theatre March 15

The Ahn Trio, surely the most glamorous all-sister chamber ensemble ever to grace both Lincoln Center and MTV, will perform for the Edison Theatre OVATIONS! Series at 8 p.m. March 15.

Ahn trio
The Ahn Trio — (from left), Maria, cello; Angelia, violin; and Lucia, piano — will take the stage twice March 15. The South Korean sisters will perform at 11 a.m. for the ovations! for young people series and then at 8 p.m. for the OVATIONS! Series. — Courtesy photo

In addition that day, the Ahns will present a special matinee performance of Ahn-Plugged, their program of unconventional and “alternative” chamber works, at 11 a.m. for the ovations! for young people series.

The Ahn sisters have been hailed for their extraordinary powers of communication and for their exquisite blend of rich sound, superb technique and contagious excitement.

The Washington Post praised the group for balancing “unanimity and individuality in a spirit that is at the heart of chamber music,” while the Los Angeles Times noted, “A dominant musical gene has obviously left its imprint on the sisters Ahn.”

Originally from South Korea, twins Lucia and Maria and younger sibling Angella all studied piano in early childhood, though Maria switched to the cello at age 7 and Angella soon moved to violin. They made their first public appearance as a trio on Korean television in 1979.

In 1981, however, the Ahn family immigrated to the United States, and the girls — at ages 9 and 11 — enrolled in the pre-college music program at New York’s prestigious Juilliard School.

Time magazine brought the Ahns to the attention of American audiences in 1987 as part of a cover story on “Asian American Whiz Kids,” and NBC and PBS featured them during their 1988 coverage of the Seoul Olympics.

After winning top prizes at the 1992 Alliance Northeast Competition for Chamber Ensembles and the Coleman Chamber Competition, the trio would grace the pages of The New York Times, GQ, Vogue, Town & Country and numerous other publications.

The Ahns’ first recording, of Ravel and Villa-Lobos trios, was released in 1995 to strong reviews; Audio Magazine raved that, “…this is one of Ravel’s best, and never better played.” Their 1999 follow-up, of trios by Suk, Dvorák and Shostakovich, earned similar acclaim — “This enormously stimulating performance will be one to return to again and again” (BBC Music) — and won Germany’s prestigious ECHO Award, considered that nation’s equivalent to the Grammy.

In 1997, an appearance with Bryan Adams on MTV’s Unplugged inspired the Ahns to develop Ahn-Plugged, which focuses on — and frequently commissions — pieces by contemporary composers, notably Eric Ewazen, the sisters’ music theory teacher at Juilliard, and former classmates Kenji Bunch and Ronn Yedidia.

The first Ahn-Plugged recording, released in 2000, featured Ewazen’s The Diamond World and Bunch’s Concerto for Piano Trio and Orchestra, as well as works by Michael Nyman, Leonard Bernstein, Astor Piazzolla and David Bowie.

Groovebox (2002), their most recent release, features works by Yedidia, Bunch, Nyman, Piazzolla and Maurice Jarre, as well as Michal Rataj’s transcription of The Doors’ Riders on the Storm.

“To hear them play Piazzolla, you’d think these sisters had grown up on the streets of Buenos Aires,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote. “The rhythms and accents were so full of meaning … Playing such as this would make stars of the Ahns if they were three ugly men.”

The Edison Theatre performances are made possible with support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; and the Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis.

Tickets for the evening concert are $27, $22 for seniors, students, WUSTL faculty and staff, and $13 for WUSTL students. Admission for the matinee is $7.

Tickets are available at the Edison Theatre Box Office and through all MetroTix outlets.

For more information about either performance, call 935-6543.