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Hawaii Symphony Orchestra appoints new director of artistic engagement and composer in residence

The Hawaii Symphony Orchestra announced Wednesday that it has named Dr. Michael Thomas Foumai as its director of artistic engagement and composer in residence — a brand-new position for the orchestra.

Foumai is an award-winning composer whose work has been performed by the National Symphony Orchestra and the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. He holds multiple degrees in music composition from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the University of Michigan, and he is currently on faculty at the University of Hawaii - West Oahu.

“We’re incredibly grateful to have Michael as HSO’s first director of artistic engagement and composer in residence,” said Dave Moss, president and CEO of HSO, said in statement. “Michael’s career is one that is both firmly rooted in Hawaii and its culture while being international in its scope and reach. His work has already brought an unprecedented level of richness for those experiencing HSO’s concerts.”

In the role, Foumai will lead HSO’s Beyond the Music, a new educational series, serve as the primary arranger for HSO guest artists, and spearhead the composition and arrangement for HSO’s HapaSymphony Series. He also will serve as the program notes annotator, where he will distill historical and cultural information of a performance piece for the audience.

“It gives me tremendous joy and purpose to join the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra with a mission to deeply connect symphonic music to our cultural roots in Hawaii,” said Foumai. “Our symphony is a supreme storyteller with the cogency to unify the community, amplify representation, and kindle awareness and perspectives in the Islands and abroad. I am thrilled and invigorated to serve in my role and grateful for the absolute privilege of orchestrating our homegrown stories through the cinematic sonic canvas of our HSO.”

The Hawaii Symphony Orchestra produces 50 performances each season. According to the organization, it reaches 140,000 individuals annually through its performances and educational programs, including more than 3,175 students.


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