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Maui Classical Music Festival

Esteemed ensembles enrich and educate island communities

Che-Yen Chen (from left), Deborah Pae, Wayne Lee and Jasmine Lin are the Formosa Quartet, who along with the Koinonia Trio (not pictured) are featured at The Maui Classical Music Festival presented Friday through May 17 at historic churches in Makena, Hana and Makawao. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for students for each concert. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.mauiclassicalmusicfestival.org. Sam Zauscher photo

Opening Friday at the Makawao Union Church and running through May 17, the annual Maui Classical Music Festival will feature two celebrated ensembles — the Formosa Quartet and the Koinonia Trio.

Winners of both the First Prize and Amadeus Prize at the Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition in London, the Formosa Quartet is acclaimed as “one of the very best quartets of their generation.” Hailed as “spellbinding” by The Strad, the Formosa Quartet has given critically acclaimed performances at the Library of Congress, the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center, the National Concert Hall in Taipei and the Kammermusiksaal at the Berliner Philharmonie.

The ensemble, which last performed at the Maui Classical Music Festival in 2007, features Che-Yen Chen on viola, Wayne Lee on violin, Jasmine Lin on violin and Deborah Pae on cello.

The Quartet’s latest album, “From Hungary to Taiwan,” includes premiere recordings of three Formosa commissions: Lei Liang’s “Song Recollections,” Dana Wilson’s “Hungarian Folk Songs” and Wei-Chieh Lin’s “Five Taiwanese Folk Songs.”

BBC Music Magazine praised the effort as “a marvelously elegant performance full of youthful freshness and exuberance . . . spellbinding virtuosity.”

Mike Love (from left), Paula Fuga, Starr Kalahiki, Kalani Pe‘a and Tavana join Henry Kapono (center) at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center on Saturday. Photo courtesy the MACC

First prize winners at the 2017 Briggs Chamber Music and the East Central MTNA Chamber Music competitions, the Koinonia Trio was formed in 2015, with Hye-Jin Cho on piano, Christine Harada Li on violin and Nathaniel Pierce on cello and tenor voice.

In the past year, Koinonia has performed across the Mainland, toured Europe and was an ensemble in residence at the Innsbrook Institute and the Anchorage Chamber Music Festival.

The concert series also features violist Yizhak Schotten and pianist Katherine Collier, the Festival’s music directors since its inception in 1982.

The festival opens at 7 p.m. Friday at Makawao Union Church with “A Night in Vienna” program featuring Brahms’ “Two Songs for Voice, Viola, and Piano, Op. 91” (Pierce, Schotten, Collier); Beethoven’s “Piano Trio in E Flat, Op. 1 No. 1” (Koinonia Trio); Richard Strauss’ “Morgen” for Cello, Voice and Piano (Pierce, Cho); and Mozart’s “String Quintet in D major, K.593” (Formosa Quartet, Schotten).

On Monday at 7 p.m., the festival travels to Makena and the Keawala’i Congregational Church for “From Paris to Prague.”

The program includes Massenett’s “Elegy for Voice, Viola, and Piano” (Pierce, Schotten, Collier); Debussy’s “Petite Suite for Piano Four Hands, L.65” (Collier, Cho); Ravel’s “Piano Trio in A Minor” (Koinonia Trio); and Dvorak’s “String Quintet in E Flat, Op. 97 (Formosa Quartet, Schotten).

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the festival features a “Hana Community Concert” at the Wananalua Congregational Church. Works presented include Haydn’s “String Quartet in E Flat, Op. 76 No. 6” (Formosa Quartet); Purcell’s “If Music Be the Food of Love” for Cello and Voice (Pierce); Schubert’s “Erlkonig” for Cello and Voice (Pierce); Grappelli’s “Jazz Tunes” (arranged by Jasmine Lin) (Formosa Quartet); and Tchaikovsky’s “String Sextet in D Minor” (“Souvenir de Florence”) (Formosa Quartet, Schotten, Pierce).

The “Festival Finale” will be presented at 7 p.m. May 17 at the Keawala’i Congregational Church. The program features Purcell’s “If Music Be the Food of Love” for Cello and Voice (Pierce); Haydn’s “String Quartet in E Flat, Op. 76 No. 6” (Formosa Quartet); Grappelli’s “Jazz Tunes” (Formosa Quartet); Schoenfeld’s “Samba” for Piano Trio (Koinonia Trio); and Tchaikovsky’s “String Sextet in D Minor” (“Souvenir de Florence”) (Formosa Quartet, Schotten, Pierce).

Tchaikovsky’s “Souvenir de Florence” was initially composed in 1890 when the Russian genius spent three months in the Italian city. While it’s one of the most popular works in the string chamber music repertoire, Tchaikovsky wrote on the day he started it: “I’m composing with unbelievable effort. I’m hampered not by lack of ideas but by the novelty of the form.” Once he had completed the sextet he later wrote how he was, “thrilled with my own work.”

Premiered in New York in 1894, the “String Quintet in E Flat, Op. 97” was composed while Dvorak was living in Iowa. With its pastoral themes inspired by the vastness of Iowa’s farmlands and the music he heard (including Native American tribal dances), it became known as the “American.”

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With four Na Hoku Hanohano Award nominations, Henry Kapono’s album “The Songs of C&K,” will be highlighted in a special “Henry Kapono: The Next Generation” concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Castle Theater at Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului.

Joining the legendary, Grammy-nominated Hawaiian musician will be Kalani Pe’a, Paula Fuga, Starr Kalahiki, Tavana and Mike Love. All the musicians are featured on the re-recording of Cecilio Rodriguez and Kapono’s timeless classics, where the younger artists added their own distinctive accent and a fresh spin from reggae and country to jazz and rock.

“There are a lot of great artists on the album, and they all put their heart and soul into it,” Kapono reported last year. “They have a lot of respect for C&K music because they all grew up with it. I basically gave them free rein to express themselves.”

Among the highlights, Maui’s Grammy-winning Pe’a delivered a brilliant version of Stevie Wonder’s “All In Love Is Fair,” Jazz Album Na Hoku-winner Kalahiki transformed “You and Me” into a powerful torch ballad and Fuga brought the album to a dramatic close with a stunning version of “Song for Someone.”

Additionally, Fuga and Pe’a are featured on a new CD, “Hawaiian Lullaby,” which will be released on May 24.

During the MACC concert, Kapono will spend time with each artist performing songs together and talking story.

• Mike Love, Paula Fuga, Starr Kalahiki, Kalani Pe’a and Tavana join Henry Kapono for “Artist 2 Artist with Henry Kapono: The Next Generation” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Castle Theater at Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului. Tickets are $35, $45 and $65, with a limited number of $125 VIP/Hangin’ with Henry tickets (plus applicable fees). VIP tickets include a premium seat and a meet and greet opportunity with Henry and his special guests. For tickets or more information, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or go online to www.mauiarts.org.

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One of the most inspiring musicians you’ll ever see, Michael Franti basically had the entire Castle Theater audience on their feet dancing and jubilantly singing along for two hours last Thursday from the moment he hit the stage. A master of spirit and consciousness raising, Franti focused mostly on his latest album, “Stay Human 2,” calling on actor Woody Harrelson to join him twice on stage, and often heading into the audience to dance with an assortment of fans, while still singing, all the way up to the third floor balcony. To close, he invited up a bunch of kids and launched a mass sing-along to John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.”

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A special “Queenz” show from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at Charley’s Restaurant & Saloon in Paia will celebrate Mother’s Day with a benefit for Women Helping Women. Entertainers include Gail Swanson, Cheryl Rae, Nara Boone, Natalie Nicole, Rabbitt, Karrie O’Neill and guests.

A donation of $20 is suggested. The event is presented by Seabury Hall high school senior, Zofia Kayian, as the final project for her independent women’s studies class. 

• For more information, call 579-8085 or visit www.charleys maui.com. This is a 21 and older event.