MICHAEL-THOMAS FOUMAI (b. 1987, Honolulu, Hawai‘i) is the Director of Artistic Engagement and the first Composer in Residence for the Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra. His music, described as "vibrant and cinematic" (New York Times) and "full of color, drama, and emotion" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), encompasses an extensive catalog of symphonic music, spanning commercial arranging to the avant-garde, and focuses on the culture of his Hawaiʻi home. In 2019, he was selected into the 17th class of the Pacific Century Fellows, comprised of 35 outstanding and talented young leaders to represent the individual and professional diversity of Hawaiʻi, including government, small-and-large businesses, the arts, and non-profit and corporate enterprises.
Recent projects have focused on issues and stories facing the people of Hawaiʻi. Raise Hawaiki, a large scale choral-symphony based on the Polynesian voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa was commissioned by the Wallace, Elizabeth and Isabella Wong Family Foundation to celebrate the return of Hōkūleʻa from her three-year world-wide voyage Mālama Honua. Setting the words of Nainoa Thompson, Eddie Aikau and Mau Piailug, the historic world premiere brought together an unprecedented collaboration between ten institutions encompassing performance, voyaging and higher learning: The Polynesian Voyaging Society, The Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra, Oʻahu Choral Society, the choirs from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Hawaiʻi Youth Opera Chorus, Kapiʻolani Community College, University of Hawaiʻi West Oʻahu, community choirs, ʻŌiwi TV, IONA Contemporary Dance Theatre, the University of Hawaiʻi Foundation, hula choreographed by Lauren Kanoelani Chang Williams and visual projections and artwork by Herbert Kāne and voyager Hana Yoshihata.