The Oahu Choral Society will perform Dvorak's Stabat Mater with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, April 10, 2015


Hoʻāla (To Awaken)

With the O’ahu Choral Society.

On Thursday, March 28, the HSO will perform Raise Hawaiki, by local composer Michael-Thomas Foumai and Brahms Requiem with the Oʻahu Choral Society led by Esther S. Yoo (OCS Artistic Director) and joined by the choirs from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (Nola Nahulu, Director of Hawaiian Chorus, Dr. Jace Saplan, Director of Choral Activities) and with the choral programs from the Kapiʻolani Community College and Windward Community College.

This is the world premiere of Michael-Thomas Foumai’s complete work of Raise Hawaiki.


Presented in collaboration with the University Hawaiʻi Foundation, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Music Department, Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra, Oʻahu Choral Society, Polynesian Voyaging Society, IONA Contemporary Dance Theatre, Kapiʻolani Community College and Windward Community College, go aboard the Hōkūleʻa on a symphonic voyage celebrating the legacy of Polynesian voyaging in the world premiere of Honolulu composer Dr. Michael-Thomas Foumai’s Raise Hawaiki.

A modern epic of Hawaiʻi, the story of Hōkūleʻa embodies Hoʻāla with the awakening of the Hawaiian consciousness and movement to care for our blue-island Earth. Told through words inspired by navigators Nainoa Thompson and Mau Piailug, legendary waterman Eddie Aikau, and Hōkūleʻa’s voyaging crew members Sam Kaʻai and Sam Low with text edited by Dr. Puakea Nogelmeier, experience the 1976 maiden voyage to Tahiti, navigate the seas by stars, relive the heroism and dream of Eddie Aikau, and celebrate the hope of Hōkūleʻa’s worldwide voyage, Mālama Honua.




The Brahms Requiem is generally associated with the death of Christiane Brahms, the composer’s mother, in February 1865. In fact, its origins extend back as far as 1854. Early in that fateful year, Brahms’ mentor and friend Robert Schumann attempted suicide by hurling himself into the icy winter waters of the Rhine River. Schumann survived the ordeal, but the incident precipitated his incarceration in a mental asylum in Endenich, where he died in the summer of 1856.

Young Brahms was stricken by his friend’s illness and subsequent death. His grief poured out in his music, and his first symphonic efforts date from this time. Most of that early orchestral music eventually found its way into the monumental Piano Concerto  No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15 (1854-59). One movement, however, was rejected: a slow scherzo in sarabande rhythm that Brahms composed on the heels of Schumann’s suicide attempt. More than a decade later, he retrieved this ominous movement, incorporating it as the second section of his Requiem, with the text “Denn alles Fleisch es ist wie Gras.” Noble and power ful as this movement is, one can hardly believe that its inspiration came to a young man in only his early twenties.

Thursday, March 28, 2019
7:30 p.m. at the Blaisdell Concert Hall
Tickets: $29, $44, $59



Ticket sales close at the HSO Box Office at noon on Wednesday, March 27. To purchase tickets after this time, please purchase through Ticketmaster.

Esther Yoo, Artistic Director, O‘ahu Choral Society

Since 2008, Esther Yoo has been the Artistic Director of the O‘ahu Choral Society. A native of Toronto, Canada, Yoo holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting from the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. She received her undergraduate degree in Music Education and a Master’s degree in Conducting, both from the University of Toronto studying with Raffi Armenien and Doreen Rao.

Yoo also graduated with an Artist Diploma in piano performance from the Hochschule für Musik in Munich and has studied extensively with Russian pianist Vera Gornostaeva. She has appeared in festivals and master classes in France, Austria, and Switzerland and has given recitals in Germany, France, and Italy. As a conductor, Yoo was invited as a conducting fellow at the Oregon Bach Festival and Toronto Bach Festival with Maestro Helmuth Rilling. She has also participated in conducting master classes with Robert Shaw, Sir David Willcocks, Harry Christophers, Stephen Darlington, and Dale Warland. Yoo brings professional choral singing experience, having sung under the batons of Robert Shaw, James Levine, James Conlon, and Helmuth Rilling, among others. A versatile conductor, she has worked extensively with high school, collegiate, and professional choirs, including choirs at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, Hollins University, University of Toronto, and the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music. She has also conducted concerts with Canada’s professional chamber choir, The Elmer Iseler Singers.

Since coming to Hawai‘i, Yoo has prepared choruses for performances with David Willcocks, Andreas Delfs, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, Andrew Litton, and JoAnne Falletta. She has also conducted major choral/symphonic works including J. S. Bach’s Magnificat and John Rutter’s Gloria with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. More recently she conducted Mozart’s Requiem, Haydn’s Nelson Mass, Carmina Burana, and Brahms’ Requiem with members of the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra, as well as Bach’s Mass in B minor and Dvorak’s Stabat Mater with the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra. She has also collaborated and conducted works with Hawai‘i Youth Opera Chorus, Hawai‘i Education of the Arts Choirs, Hawai‘i Youth Symphony, and Chamber Music Hawai‘i.

Yoo is active as a guest clinician and adjudicator. Previously, she held faculty positions at Hollins University in Virginia, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, and Hawai‘i Pacific University. She is a member of Chorus America, National Collegiate Chorus Organization, American Choral Directors Association, Hawai‘i Music Teachers Association, College Music Society, and International Federation of Choral Musicians.

Dr. Michael-Thomas Foumai

Dr. Michael-Thomas Foumai (b. 1987, Honolulu, Hawai‘i) is a composer of contemporary concert music. His music has been described as “vibrant and cinematic” (New York Times) and “full of color, drama, and emotion” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). A prolific composer of symphonic music, his work focuses on storytelling and the history, people and culture of his Hawaiʻi home.

Dr. Foumai’s orchestral music has been performed and commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Albany Symphony, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Portland Symphony Orchestra, Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra, Hawaiʻi Youth Symphony and the Royal Hawaiian Band among others. Various chamber groups including Alarm Will Sound, Dolce Suono Ensemble, Music from Copland House, Chicago Ensemble, and Ebb and Flow Ensemble have presented his music across the country as well as in Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia and Europe.

The recipient of awards and prizes from many competitions and institutions, his honors include the Fromm Foundation Commission from Harvard University, the Music Teachers National Association Distinguished Composer of the Year Award, Jacob Druckman Prize from the Aspen Music Festival, three BMI composer awards, ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, The American Prize, Intimacy of Creativity Fellowship from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the inaugural Kaplan Fellowship from the Bowdoin Music International Music Festival, and was selected by the late Maestro Lorin Maazel as winner of the Composers Competition at the Castleton Festival.

As an arranger, Dr. Foumai has composed for guest artists, including Raiatea Helm and the Hawaii Youth Symphony and Iwalani Kahalewai and the Royal Hawaiian Band. As an educator, Dr. Foumai currently serves on the faculty of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in the theory and composition area. He holds degrees from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and the University of Michigan. His music has been recorded by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Ian O’Sullivan, the Royal Hawaiian Band and The Brass Project on various labels. For more information please visit: www.michaelfoumai.com

About The O’ahu Choral Society

The O`ahu Choral Society (OCS) consists of 100 singers from all walks of life, from young adults to kupuna, all united by their talent and love for classical music and choral singing. Our mission is to present the highest quality performances of great choral music for the enjoyment and enrichment of the community of Hawai`i, to be a passionate leader and contributor to the cultural and artistic vitality and spirit of Hawai`i, and to support and cultivate the love and appreciation for choral music.

Originally founded in 1978 as the Honolulu Symphony Chorus, the O`ahu Choral Society performs major choral works with full orchestra, as well as smaller works with chamber ensembles, organ, and piano. OCS also frequently joins with other arts organizations in the community to deliver choral music for the entire family. Read More >>

The Hawaii Symphony Orchestra and the Oahu Choral Society




This concert is brought to you in part by the generous support of our sponsor.

The Wallace, Elizabeth, and Isabella Wong Family Foundation