Tradition of talent

In celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Maui Classical Music Festival, organizers will present a series of concerts culminating in a grand finale May 13 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.

“We are very excited about this year’s anniversary celebration with our finale concert on the stage of the Castle Theater,” says festival co-founder Katherine Collier. “We are bringing back some of our favorite performers as well as having several wonderful new musicians.”

For a number of years, the festival has presented concerts in some of our historic churches. Opening on Friday at the Makawao Union Church, concerts will also be presented at churches in Makena and Hana.

“They have great acoustics and ambience,” Collier notes.

“And it’s a way to bring music to the people,” adds festival co-founder Yizhak Schotten.

Ten leading classical musicians will be featured including horn virtuoso William VerMeulen, the principal horn of the Houston Symphony since 1990, who has been acclaimed as “one of today’s superstars of the international brass scene”; and Paganini International Competition-winning violinist Soovin Kim, whose recording of Paganini’s 24 Caprices for Solo Violin was hailed by Classic FM magazine as “thrillingly triumphant.”

Other musicians include violinist Robyn Bollinger, a member of the Grammy-nominated chamber orchestra A Far Cry, known for her “strongly virtuosic playing,” noted the Boston Musical Intelligencer. Edward Arron was praised by The New Yorker as “one of New York’s most exciting young cellists,” and a “superb cellist” by The New York Times.

Cellist Desmond Hoebig won the first prize at the Munich International Competition and is also a Tchaikovsky Competition award winner. Acclaimed violist Aloysia Friedmann has performed with some of New York’s most prestigious musical ensembles, as well as Metallica at Madison Square Garden.

Pianist Gloria Chien, says the Boston Globe, “appears to excel in everything” and plays with “a wondrously rich palette of colors.” And pianist Heng-Jin Park, who played at the 2014 Maui festival, has been described by the Washington Post as a “pianist of unusual artistry and musical imagination.”

Leading the festival, as they have since 1982, are violist Schotten and his wife, Collier, who is a pianist, both University of Michigan faculty members.

“It’s amazing we’ve been able to keep this going for so long,” says Schotten. “We always try to put really nice programs together, and we really wanted to play the Brahms’ sextet (for Strings in B Flat, Op.18). I think that will be a wonderful way to end.”

The festival’s history began in 1982, when the Kapalua Music Festival was founded by Margaret and Colin Cameron, after Schotten and Collier contacted the Camerons to consider the possibility of creating a chamber music festival on Maui. More recently, it has reorganized as the Maui Classical Music Festival.

“We appreciate so much all the support we’ve had over the years, beginning of course with Colin and Margaret,” says Collier.

Friday’s “Verve and Virtuosity” concert will feature Mozart’s Horn Quintet in E Flat, K.407; Mendelssohn’s String Quintet in A, Op.18; and Beethoven’s Piano Trio in E Flat, Op.1 No. 1.”

On Monday, the festival moves to the Keawala’i Congregational Church in Makena for a “Passion and Nobility” concert featuring Dvorak’s Piano Quartet in E Flat, Op. 87; Chopin’s Polonaise Brillante for Cello and Piano in C, Op.3; and Brahms’ Horn Trio in E Flat. Op. 40.”

At the Wananalua Congregational Church in Hana, a concert Wednesday will include movements from Mozart’s Horn Quintet in E Flat, K.407; Mendelssohn’s String Quintet in A, Op. 18; and Brahms’ String Sextet in B Flat, Op. 18.

The festival concludes at the MACC with a finale concert featuring Dukas’ Villanelle for Horn and Piano; Mozart’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in A, K.305; and Brahms’ Sextet for Strings in B Flat, Op.18.

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One-woman-band musician Kawehi was attending the 2016 Super Bowl game when she discovered that an Intel TV ad including her music had screened during a commercial break.

“I didn’t see it because I was actually at the game,” she explains. “All of a sudden, people are blowing my phone up, ‘Was that you?’ I love doing mashups and they (Intel) asked me to do a mashup of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and their theme music they call the bong. They filmed me doing it and I was part of the commercial. But they didn’t tell me they were going to air it at the Super Bowl.”

Kawehi has been blowing up ever since she posted a video of her stunning cover of Nirvana’s song “Heart-Shaped Box,” which has so far racked up close to 1 million views.

Born on Oahu and now based in Kansas, this extremely talented musician has earned fans like Courtney Love, who raved about her Nirvana cover, commenting “this is genius” on Twitter, and Sean “Diddy” Combs, who raved about her amazing version of Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” (with more than 4 million views).

Kawehi creates her unusual covers and recordings of original songs using looping, repeating sections of sound that are seamlessly repeated throughout a song. Using looping technology, and playing keyboards, electric guitar, ukulele and percussion, Kawehi is able to craft richly textured, rhythmically intricate songs.

Independent of the music industry, she has pursued her career as a contemporary DIY artist entirely through the Internet, successfully supporting all her recordings through crowd-funding.

Her latest crowd-funded EP project,

“Interaktiv,” was made possible by 930 backers. It’s her most collaborative recording to date with fans having input on song subjects, titles, artwork, etc.

“We all chimed in about the message of the songs and it turned out really interesting,” she reports. “It was really great to let them have a say in it. This is my seventh project I’ve completed through Kickstarter funding.”

Moving to Los Angeles at age 19, Kawehi performed in bands and as a solo artist before discovering looping.

“I was doing everything and not getting any better,” she says. “I toyed with the idea for years, but it’s really difficult. Once I went down that rabbit hole, there was no coming back.”

Is it easier now?

“Yes and no,” she says. “It’s more difficult when you go down that path because the possibilities are endless. I figure out one thing and then you have to figure out another. It’s just a web of things you can learn.”

Having previously delivered unique covers of Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees,” Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer,” Britney Spears’ “Criminal” and Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On,” what’s next for her?

“I have a lot more coming,” she says.

* Kawehi performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the McCoy Studio Theater at the MACC. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 the day of the show (plus applicable fees) and are available at the box office, by calling 242-7469 or online at www.mauiarts.org.

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San Francisco musician Curt Yagi & the People Standing Behind Me will perform at Wailuku’s First Friday party and at Charley’s Restaurant & Saloon in Paia on Saturday.

The award-winning singer/songwriter and his band are known throughout the Bay Area for “happy acoustic rock with a touch of funk for flavor.”

Yagi was named the “Best of the Bay” in 2008 by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, which said he has “the swagger of Lenny Kravitz and the lyrical prowess of Jack Johnson.” His style and influences are diverse, with his music most frequently categorized as acoustic rock, reggae and ska, as well as funk and folk.

Tickets for the show at Charley’s, which starts at 9:30 p.m., are $10. For more information, visit www.charleysmaui.com.

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Heading to Maui from Pennsylvania, One World Tribe will play Mulligans On the Blue in Wailea beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday. A multicultural ensemble, members include musicians from Africa, Jamaica and Puerto Rico.

“What sets the Tribe apart is its dazzling stylistic virtuosity,” praised the Erie Times-News. “From swirling African pop to stone-cold funk to Latin grooves to reggae to soulful ballads to jazz-fusion, the band incorporates just about everything while retaining its rhythmic intensity and proud social consciousness.”

* Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. For more information, visit www.mulligansontheblue.com.