What do “A Whole New World,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Blinding Lights” and the Pokemon theme song all have in common? They are all a part of award-winning violinist Alex Ahn’s extraordinary setlist, which impressed audience members in a performance Thursday evening hosted by the UConn Waterbury campus.
Ahn, born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, began playing the violin when he was three years old, admitting that his main goal was to learn how to play the theme songs of all his favorite video games. As a child, he focused his talents on the rigid structure of classical orchestral music. But now, more than two decades of practice later, Ahn has developed his own style, blending the traditional sound with contemporary hits and a rich Atlanta flair.
At the beginning of the performance, Ahn challenged audience members to request any song they could think of for him to play on the violin; any genre, any artist, any era.
“Any song,” Ahn said. “It could be anything, it could be a complete curveball, just go ahead and request it and I’ll play it for y’all. Let’s have some fun!”
The audience certainly complied, requesting every song from Kanye West’s “All The Lights” to Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” through genres like country pop and heavy metal. He specializes in trap music, his genre of choice, which is a subgenre of hip-hop that originated in his hometown of Atlanta.
Ahn particularly enjoys playing well-known hits to wow crowds with the versatility of the violin. The electric violin is his instrument of choice. Its sleek and compact design will shock anybody who has ever picked up a string instrument in middle school music class.
“You know what’s really fun about the electric violin is that it has a fifth string so it is essentially a viola and a violin combined,” Ahn said. “This one is looking classical, but I have another one, this bad boy, which I need to send in for repair, but when I play it, it has LED inlets, so it lights up and I have so much fun playing it.”
Ahn’s music career began while studying abroad in South Korea during his undergrad where he discovered his love for performing. Upon his return to the United States, Ahn began performing on stages across the country, shocking audiences at weddings, colleges and corporate venues by showcasing the violin’s potential in ways people could never imagine. While the ongoing pandemic has halted his live, in-person events, Ahn continues to play the violin for music-lovers nationwide, utilizing Zoom and other streaming platforms to continue to hold his concerts.
Ahn ended the night with his home state’s unofficial anthem, Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” a clear crowd-pleaser that got the audience tapping their toes through the computer screen. To see Ahn’s musical genius for yourself, check him out on all social media platforms @alexahnviolin and witness the power of Ahn’s sensational strings.