The music of Hawaii-born composer Michael-Thomas Foumai has been described as "vibrant...cinematic" (New York Times) and "full of color, drama and emotion" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Inspired by storytelling, he describes his music as using many forms of musical language to construct a compelling musical experience and journey. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and prizes from competitions and institutions including a Fromm Foundation Commission, Presser Foundation Award, 2013 American Prize, Sioux City Symphony Composer of the Year, 2012 Jacob Druckman Prize from the Aspen Music Festival, three BMI composer awards, 2014 Intimacy of Creativity Fellowship at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 2013-14 Music Teachers National Association Composer of the Year, was selected by Maestro Lorin Maazel as winner of the Composers Competition at the Castleton Festival and served as the inaugural Kaplan Fellow in Composition at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in 2015.
Other competition prizes include those from the American String Teachers Association, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Dolce Suono Ensemble, The Chicago Ensemble, Michigan Music Teachers Association, New Music USA, American Music Center and Meet the Composer, College Orchestra Directors Association, Alabama Orchestra Association, ASCAP, the Red Note New Music Festival, the Universities of Michigan, Oklahoma, Austin Peay State, East Carolina, Hawaii and the Hawaii Community Foundation.
In 2015, Momentum 21: Music for a New Century was released on Albany Records and featured the Shakespearian-inspired Lady Dark performed by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra conducted by Kirk Trevor. Other recordings include In Paradisum on Born and Raised performed by guitarist Ian O'Sullivan and Auld Lang Syne Fantasy by the Royal Hawaiian Band. A fourth-coming recording by the Royal Hawaiian Band featuring Spiritus Mundi will be released in the 2015-16 season.
Upcoming performances this season include four orchestral premieres: The Spider Thread with the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Music in the High Castle with the Raleigh Civic Chamber Orchestra, the anime-inspired Fullmetal for the Iowa State Symphony and a Hawaiian-mythology triptych Children of Gods for the Hawaii Youth Symphony. Recent works include Village Music composed for Music from Copland House, Becoming Beethoven for the Portland Symphony Orchestra and The Fantastic Voyage inspired by the Hōkūleʻa Voyage for the Royal Hawaiian Band.