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Dana Kaufman: Nā Wai's First Composer in Residence

Nā Wai is incredibly excited to introduce Dana Kaufman, Nā Wai's first composer in residence. Dana comes to us as an American Prize finalist, a Fulbright Fellow, the Assistant Director of New American Voices, and Assistant Program Director of the Charlotte New Music Festival. She has joined us through a virtual residency for the winter season, and will be joining us in Hawai'i for the summer. Her mana'o about our partnership is below: I am a composer, Doctor of Musical Arts student and Teaching Assistant in Music Composition at University of Miami Frost School of Music, and a University of Miami Dean’s Fellow. As a composer, my focus is primarily on writing vocal and operatic music, including works for choir. My fixation on the notion of such vocalization, which has remained both figurative and literal in my pursuit of vocal writing, has been a driving force as I pursue my career in composition.

With that, it truly is a thrill to be the first composer-in-residence of the fantastic Na Wai Chamber Choir, which will be premiering my commissioned work Be Still My Heart on January 8 in Honolulu. As composing this piece has been my first experience working with the Hawaiian language, I have aimed to honor the language and beautiful poetry of Queen Lili’uokalani—author of Be Still My Heart, the text to which the piece is set—as much as possible. I am fortunate that my dear friend and colleague (Nā Wai Chamber Choir’s Artistic Director) Jace Saplan has invited me to collaborate with the Na Wai Chamber Choir, a partnership that will continue with another commissioned work in the coming months and a residency during Nā Wai’s summer season.

Needless to say, I very much look forward to future engagements with the Na Wai Chamber Choir, and am greatly appreciative of opportunities to compose for and work with this uniquely talented group. Mahalo!

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