‘Raise Hawaiki’ Has World Premiere

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On Thursday, March 28, 2019, at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center Concert Hall, the public got to see the world premiere of Raise Hawaiki, a movie composed by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s award-winning Michael-Thomas Foumai.

Raise Hawaiki at the Blaisdell Center Concert Hall on March 28, 2019. Courtesy photo

The Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra performed with the O‘ahu Choral society, joined by choirs from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and with choral participation from Kapi‘olani Community College and UH West O‘ahu.

The choirs sang the words of Polynesian voyaging greats Eddie Aikau, Nainoa Thompson, Mau Piailug, Sam Ka‘ai and Sam Low.

Nainoa Thompson, composer Michael-Thomas Foumai and UH President David Lassner. Courtesy photo.

Inspired by the return of Hōkūle‘a from her worldwide voyage Mālama Honua, the large-scale symphonic work brought together Hawai‘i’s major institutions of performance, learning and voyaging, mirroring Hōkūle‘a’s voyages that bring communities together across the planet to embrace and care for their culture and natural environments.


It was philanthropist Elizabeth Wong who dreamed of a symphony in honor of the Hōkūleʻa and its Mālama Honua Voyage around the world. Through her friend SaraLyn Smith at the UH Foundation, she sought out Foumai to compose it. Together, the three of them built a collaborative team to bring the music and artistic communities together with the PVS in a historic retelling of Hōkūleʻa’s story through symphony orchestra and chorus.

Raise Hawaiki at the Blaisdell Center Concert Hall. Courtesy photo.

This performance was, like the PVS Mālama Honua, a three-year journey and is an historic collaboration of UH Foundation, UH Mānoa Music Department, PVS, O‘ahu Choral Society, Hawai‘i Youth Opera Chorus, UH West O‘ahu, Kapi‘olani CC, IONA Contemporary Dance Theatre and community choirs.

  • Sponsored in part by the Wallace, Elizabeth and Isabella Wong Family Foundation, the event featured a cast of a thousand, including 200 musicians and singers, hula choreographed by Lauren Kanoelani Chang Williams, projection visuals from the PVSy/‘Ōiwi TV, historical photos by Sam Low and Ben Young, artwork by Herbert Kāne and voyager Hana Yoshihata and a pre-show performance from IONA Contemporary Dance Theatre.


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