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A Stretch of the Imagination

Ebb & Flow Arts brings magic to Maui.

November 18, 2010
Barry Sultanoff

The setting was intimate, the crowd warm and palpably charged with excitement. Pat Masumoto, her brush alive with possibility, was focused at her easel, conjuring abstract mystical landscapes in paint as local musicians, featuring Emil Richards on vibes, pumped the room alive with sound. In my imagination, I saw modern dancers improvising, interpreting the mood with staccato gestures and wide, sweeping arcs of their limbs.

Now, more than seven years and several dozen performances later, I am still awed and enchanted by these extraordinary events that consistently dazzle and stretch the imagination. And I am surprised that many who might appreciate these way-out-of-the-box artistic collaborations know so little of E&FA’s existence—and of the intriguing events they offer.

Pianist and Composer Robert Pollock founded Ebb & Flow Arts in 1999 as a nonprofit 501(c)(3). It aims to enrich the community by presenting cutting-edge multimedia events—and in so doing, to bridge and unify diverse artistic expressions and cultures.

Article Photos

Cellist Joanna Morrison will perform at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center as part of the Ebb & Flow Arts Ensemble on Sunday, Nov. 21, and will also instruct fourth grade students at Kīhei Elementary School.

Having now presented more than 500 concerts and workshop events throughout Hawai‘i—as well as in Korea, Japan and California—E&FA has remained the only organization of its kind in the state.

For Pollock, who chose the dynamic, watery name “Ebb & Flow Arts” for his fledgling organization that had just begun to emerge a decade ago, the energetic resonance between the summit of Haleakalā and the vast, roiling Pacific Ocean that surrounds it struck a chord.

“Since moving to Maui 14 years ago, my own compositions have been profoundly influenced by this intricate dance of land and water, the ancient mystery that embraces both the deep serenity of the land and the perpetual ebb and flow of the sea,” said Pollock.

Well-known Maui painter Tony Walholm is the immediate past president of the E&FA board. Recognizing the group’s special role in the community to inspire and educate, Walholm was drawn from the outset to participate actively.

“The live performances we offer are on the cutting edge of creative ingenuity, inspiring performer and audience alike,” said Walholm. “And through our ongoing work in schools in programs such as ‘Meet the Composer,’ this cultural richness is extended to future generations. E&FA shows the world that Hawai‘i is an artistically happening place!”

Indeed, E&FA consistently brings world-class musicians and performers to the Islands—in most instances, at no charge to attendees.

Believing that the original work of composers and artists is central to an enlightened culture, E&FA’s stated mission is “to enrich the soul of the community by educating the children and by presenting contemporary music, art and multimedia on Maui, in Hawai‘i, and around the world.” Functioning within an international network, E&FA helps provide a stage from which to inspire our culture to find new horizons.

“The performances take me out of my everyday existence,” said Kate Walholm, who has attended nearly all of E&FA’s events. “They stretch my awareness to the farthest reaches of the human imagination and of the world.”

Consistent with its dedication to youth, since September, E&FA has offered “Scaling Haleakalā,” its musical curriculum for reading and writing music, at Kīhei Elementary School. That has already included nearly 30 workshops for youngsters.

Later this month, it will offer fourth-graders at the school an introduction to clarinet, violin and cello under the guidance of professional musicians (including Scott Anderson on clarinet, Ignace Jang on violin and Joanna Morrison on cello), who will be on Maui performing at the group’s upcoming concert event on Sunday, Nov. 21, at 5 p.m., presented by Maui Arts & Cultural Center (MACC).

The Ebb & Flow Arts Ensemble event at the MACC, which will feature an optional pre-concert discussion at 4 p.m., will include two world premieres of E&FA-commissioned work by Eunhye Park (Seoul, Korea) and Michael-Thomas Foumai (Michigan). Also included will be works by contemporary composers (including E&FA founder Pollock), as well as classical composers Maurice Ravel and Ralph Vaughan Williams. The special guest artist is soprano Rachel Schutz.

Tickets are available through the usual MACC outlets: and 242-SHOW (7469).



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