Rapa Nui Odyssey: A Mahani Teave Piano Album & Documentary Film Released

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Rapa Nui Odyssey: A Mahani Teave Piano Recital is available at Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk, Presto Music https://www.prestomusic.com/classical and Apple Music and Spotify for digital.

At the end of a long dirt road dappled with farms on a remote South Pacific island is the unexpected site of a music school, Toki Rapa Nui. A sustainable, ecological wonder with agri-environmental gardens to grow food, the structure itself is built of reclaimed garbage, tin cans, bottles, and Pacific Ocean plastic. The school provides the children of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) an extraordinary opportunity for music education in spite of a woeful lack of instruments and facilities. The founder and force behind the school is the inspiring and visionary young pianist Mahani Teave.

As a child, Teave wanted to learn the piano, but there were no instruments on her native Easter Island, 2,000 miles off the Chilean coast. She managed to find a way, and, through perseverance and sheer willpower, caught the ear of famed Chilean pianist Roberto Bravo, who advised Mahani’s mother to take the young girl to mainland Chile to study. After spending six years in school there, she went to the Cleveland Institute of Music and then Berlin’s Hanns Eisler Academy.

She soon started giving concerts in Europe, Asia, and South America, and her star was on the rise. But as a native of one of the most isolated places on earth, she was intent on ensuring that the next generation of Easter Island children had more access to music. So at the age of 30, and on the brink of international success, she gave up an expanding career to pursue a new dream – returning to Rapa Nui in 2013 to launch a free music school for the island’s children, wanting to shape a bold new future for that idyllic place and its young people.

Fast forward a few years to 2018, when Seattle-based software magnate and rare-violin collector David Fulton and his wife Amy visited Easter Island while on a cruise, during which a special outing to Toki Rapa Nui was arranged. There, they found a lovely building, adorable music students who were beautifully and colorfully dressed with flowers in their hair for a performance for guests, and the school’s founder and director, Mahani Teave, playing on an old upright piano.

“I could not have been more astonished if Horowitz or Rubinstein had stepped onstage,” Fulton recalled. “Her playing was totally unexpected, uplifting, and deeply moving – a musical feast.” After the concert, he wanted to buy one of her CDs, but when he learned that she had never made one, an idea was born. He arranged for her to travel to Seattle to make a CD, not only to give her a wider platform for her work, but also to help support the school. (All of the recording’s proceeds go directly to the school.)

Grammy-winning engineer Dmitriy Lipay oversaw the recording, which features a generous program of major works by Bach (Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue), Handel (Suite No. 5 in E Minor), Chopin (Scherzo No. 1 in B Minor and Barcarolle) Liszt (Ballade No. 2 and Vallee d’Obermann), a traditional Rapa Nui song, and smaller pieces by Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, and Chopin.

Fifteen-time Emmy award-winning producer director John Forsen was so taken with Mahani Teave and her personal and artistic journey, he was inspired to make a film, Song of Rapa Nui, which was just released on Amazon Prime.

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