Composer Spotlight-Jean Ahn
Get to Know...Jean Ahn
As I assemble the composer spotlights, I make it a practice to listen to the piece for which the composer was honored and I’m almost always quickly reminded why the piece was successful in the competition. Jean Ahn’s Toys for flute, piano, and windup toy, chosen as the honorable mention in the flute and accompaniment category, is just such a work. It is such a clever work, she produces really fascinating colors, the flute and piano are really well integrated with ever changing roles, and her incorporation of standard nursery rhymes is clever, but never cloying. Toys is quickly becoming popular with our members; Shelley Martinson and Nicole Riner have already performed it, and Mary Matthews Norton will perform it on her faculty recital at Tennessee Tech on April 5th.
Jean, a lecturer at UC Berkeley is also the director of Ensemble Ari, a chamber ensemble with the mission of bridging Korea and other communities through western instruments while honoring Korean history and culture. In listening to Jean’s music, I feel the same could be said of many of her compositions. She deftly melds Korean influences, western classical aesthetics, and extended techniques to create interesting and engaging works with her own individual voice. We hope you’ll enjoy learning more about Jean and her music.
Q&A with Jean…
Flute has so much possibility especially with breathing and lip control.What about new music for the flute appeals to you?
The flute has so many possibilities; especially with breathing and lip control. Also, it was actually the performers who inspired me. When Duo Cameraderie (Laura Scarlata, flute/ Sharon Lee Kim, piano) commissioned me to write Toys for them, their musicality and dedication to new music were the inspiration.
Who is/are your favorite “new music” composer/s and why?
Marcos Balter, innovative but not esoteric.
What is/are your favorite “new music” piece/s and why?
The Ligeti Études. Although not a flute work, I think they give me inspiration for any piece I write.
What advice can you give to flutists about approaching new music in practice?
Don't be afraid. It is worth it. (FNMC note: We couldn’t agree more!)
More About Jean…
Born in Korea, Jean Ahn began to study piano and composition at a very early age. She finished her B.A. and M.M. at Seoul National University and PhD at UC Berkeley where her teachers included Edmund Campion, Cindy Cox, David Wessel, Jorge Liederman and Richard Felciano. Her creative output includes works ranging from solo instruments to full orchestra, as well as choral, dance and electroacoustic music. Awards for her compositions include 1st prize from the Renée Fisher Award, the Korean National Music Composers Award, 1st prize from the Sejong Korean Music Competition and UC Berkeley’s the De Lorenzo Prize. Jean’s music was featured at Aspen Music Festival (Susan and Ford Schumann Composition Fellow), June in Buffalo, the Madness and Music Festival (UC Davis), the Oregon Bach Festival, the Etchings Festival, SCI conferences, IAWM Beijing Congress, SEAMUS, the Spark Festival, the Fresno New Music Festival, Women Composers Conference in Australia, Women Composers Festival at Hartford, New York City Electronic Music Festival, among others. Commissions include works for the Leftcoast Chamber Ensemble, Volti Chamber Choir, Duo Camaraderie, SF Choral Artists, Gayaguem Soloist JUL, Locrian Chamber Players, and the Pianissimo, among others. Her work has been performed by Earplay, UC Davis Orchestra, Berkeley Symphony, UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Sur Plus, pianist Lisa Moore (Bang on a can), Contemporaneous Ensemble, Invoke String Quartet and others. Jean has been giving lecture recitals with Singer Raejin Lee on “Folksong Revisited” for voice and piano at College Music Society Symposiums, NATS(National Association of Singers Convention) and Symposium in New Music, Brazil. The collection with CD and score will be published in 2018, which shows her vision to introduce Korean songs and techniques to professional performers in the US. She is the director of Ensemble ARI and CMO/Advisor for Cool Jamm Company. www.jeanahn.com
If You Liked Toys…
Instrumentation: flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano
Date of Composition: 2004/2018
Instrumentation: flute, clarinet and cello
Date of Composition: 2016
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The Flute New Music Consortium is an organization dedicated to the creation and support of new music for the flute.