Our Islands, Our Future

Choirmaster Bob Wills, Maui’s Summer Masterworks Festival“Choral performance, like other forms of music, really nourishes the soul when done right,” observes choirmaster Bob Wills, the founder and volunteer director of Maui’s Summer Masterworks Festival. This August, the second annual Festival will be held at Kihei Baptist Church and will feature 70 choir members and 35 intrumentalists performing Bach’s Magnificat as well as works by Mozart and Vivaldi. Next summer, Wills envisions a week-long event that will include choirs drawn from beyond Maui, providing the island economy with a welcome boost. “In our first year, we brought together choir members from across Maui to perform Mozart’s Requiem,” says Wills. “We were expecting an audience of maybe 150; on the night, 550 showed up, we had standing room only. It was a huge success and we obviously tapped into a very enthusiastic market.”

Maui is fortunate to add Wills, who works as a realtor when not volunteering, to the list of talented and visionary residents that have developed and staged annual arts events such as the Maui Film Festival, the Maui Photo Festival, and the Writer’s Conference. Wills credits his wife, Beth, a music teacher and choral director at Lahaina Intermediate, as a major partner in the choral success he has enjoyed. As a choirmaster and professional singer back in Minnesota, where he grew up, he directed large choirs of up to 300 and took groups to perform in Europe, where his audience included Pope John Paul II. On Maui, he has worked with Baldwin High School students and been involved in musicals such as The King and I, The Sound of Music, and Annie at Iao Theatre. “The arts fulfill an important human need: they elevate our spirits,” says Wills. His real reward comes from teaching. “When someone I’m working with reaches that “aha!” moment – that’s what makes it all worthwhile to me.” As for his personal philosophy, Wills explains: “Singing has got to be fun. It’s the journey that’s important, not only the destination.”