Alex de Grassi
Alex de Grassi has been a unique voice in the world of acoustic guitar for the past 42 years. Often cited as one of the world's top fingerstyle, steel-string acoustic guitarists, his innovative approach to composing and arranging for solo steel-string guitar has influenced a generation of younger players. From his first solo performances in university coffeehouses and as a street musician to his engagements at prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Montreux Jazz Festival, de Grassi has followed his own vision and helped lay the foundation for contemporary fingerstyle guitar. The Wall Street Journal has called his playing “flawless”, and Billboard praised his “intricate finger-picking technique with an uncanny gift for melodic invention.”
de Grassi's career has drawn acclaim for numerous studio recordings as well as for live performances as a soloist and within ensemble settings. His 1978 recording, Turning: Turning Back (cited by Acoustic Guitar magazine among their top ten essential fingerstyle recordings), the subsequent recordings Slow Circle (1979) and Southern Exposure (1984), and his GRAMMY®-nominated recording, The Water Garden, (1998) are considered classics of the genre. He has twice been commissioned by the New York Guitar Festival to compose and perform live scores for the festival's Silent Films/Live Guitars series. Festival director David Spelman says, “Alex de Grassi is a treasure… his technical wizardry as well as his vibrant and poetic music-making make him one of the most distinctive steel-string guitarists performing today.”
His latest solo studio recording, The Bridge (released in April 2020), features six new original compositions and arrangements of Gershwin (“It Ain’t Necessarily So”), Hendrix (“Angel”), and a pair of classic folk songs (“Shenandoah”, “Sí Bheag Sí Mhór”). The Bridge was recorded by multi-GRAMMY® award winner and TEC Hall of Fame engineer Leslie Ann Jones at the legendary Skywalker Sound studio in Northern California.
de Grassi has also taught masterclasses at the Interlochen Institute, Berklee School of Music, the Omega Institute, the Crown of the Continent Guitar Workshop, and the National Summer Guitar Workshop. He founded the Mendocino Summer Guitar Workshop near his home in Albion, California. His guitar transcriptions have been published with Hal Leonard, Stropes Editions, Tropo Music, and numerous guitar magazines. The Alex de Grassi Fingerstyle Guitar Method, a reference book on the fundamentals of acoustic guitar technique published by String Letter Publishing in March 2012, is being used as a primary text for the first fingerstyle guitar degree program at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, where de Grassi is a frequent artist-in-residence. He currently resides in Ukiah, California, where he runs the guitar program at Mendocino College.
Yaoyue Huang is a pianist who celebrates new music and lesser performed modern works, explores experimental and creative projects that challenge convention, and aims to break away from common performance practice. Huang has worked with composer peers from Japan, Korea, China, Singapore, and the United States in premiering and commissioning their works. She was recently awarded the Prix Alberto Ginastera from the 14th International Piano Competition of Orléans, where she premiered a newly composed work that she commissioned for the André Chevillion-Yvone Bonnaud composition prize.
Huang was invited as a guest artist for the Porto Pianofest in Portugal, Wave Elements Global Music Festival in Portland, Oregon, and Music for All Seasons Cincinnati. Huang has performed at venues worldwide, including Shenzhen Poly Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Center, Xinghai Concert Hall, Ongaku-No-Tomo Hall in Tokyo, Nihon University, White Rock Theatre in the U.K., and Salle de l’Institut in France. Huang has performed with the Lima Symphony Orchestra, College-Conservatory of Music Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Michigan State University Symphony Orchestra.
Huang was the first prize winner of the Lima Symphony Orchestra National Young Artist Competition, CCM Piano Concerto Competition, Tuesday Musical Scholarship Competition, Birmingham Young Artist Concerto Competition, and MSU College of Music Concerto Competition. She also won top prizes in the Japan International Duo Piano Competition and the Alexander & Buono International Piano Competition.
Huang is a co-artistic director of MusicXHabitatXArt, an interdisciplinary art and performance collective based in the U.K., China, and the United States. Huang’s mentors and teachers include Soyeon Kate Lee, Minsoo Sohn, Sandra Rivers, and Mei Xiao. Huang is a DMA candidate in Piano Performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Yaoyue has worked with artist-teachers Ursula Oppens, Julian Martin, Emanual Krasovsky, Deborah Moriarty, Leif Ove Andsnes, Aviram Reichert, Frank Weinstock, and John Perry.
Scott Lowell Sherman
Scott Lowell Sherman is an American pianist, composer, and visual artist working in interdisciplinary project-based practices. He is co-artistic director of MusicXHabitatXArt, an experimental art and performance collective based in China, the United States, and the U.K. The collective was founded on the “habitat” created by marrying the visual and auditory: exploring archetypal symbolism through the digital, concrete, and subconscious. MHA’s mission is to further the appreciation of contemporary music, engaging audiences through these juxtapositions. Their ongoing digital works—based on the post-1900 piano repertoire—have been exhibited in Paris, China, Portland, Los Angeles, and The Jupiter Museum. Their ongoing project, Audible Light, is an immersive communal performance-installation set to premiere in Zürich in 2024.
Sherman has performed in France, China, Japan, Israel, Spain, and the United States, and has lectured at Shantou University, Meilin Arts School, The College-Conservatory of Music, and The Evergreen State College.
Sherman’s current recording project features György Kurtág’s works for solo piano, to be jointly presented with an interdisciplinary art book that extends beyond the recorded medium and reflects the multidisciplinary practices of Kurtág. His project, The Pianist’s Eyes, explored the relationship between audience, music, and performer’s visage. The project Stillness presented Hans Otte’s Das Buch der Klänge as an installation of sonic architecture, exploring meditative stillness and ephemerality.
Sherman’s compositions premiered at the 14th and 15th Competition d’Orleans in France and Porto Pianofest Portugal, where he was guest artist, and in the United States. His influences are Asian literature, Buddhist philosophy, and Gagaku imperial court music. His two volumes of Preludes d’Interprétation, with homage to Ohana, will be completed in 2023. Ongoing compositions include his 10 Études Poétiques, begun in 2019.
Sherman’s mentors and teachers include Minsoo Sohn, Soyeon Kate Lee, Ran Dank, Ronald Cavaye, Sandra Rivers, Deborah Moriarty, and Catherine Rollin. He has worked with artist-teachers Richard Goode, Robert McDonald, Julian Martin, Emanual Krasovsky, Dmitri Bashkirov, Ursula Oppens, Jerome Lowenthal, Tatiana Zelickman, and Frederic Chiu. Sherman is a current DMA candidate at the College-Conservatory of Music in piano performance, where he also completed his Artist Diploma. He is a laureate of the Tel-Hai International Piano Masterclasses in Israel and the Bowdoin, Gijon, and Orford International Festivals.
Saxophonist Dr. Wenbo Yin takes a bold approach in his music making. He is skillful in conveying diverse genres of music, including classical, jazz, contemporary, pop, and beatbox saxophone. Inspired to fully unveil the beauty and mystery of the saxophone, Yin pursued his DMA in Saxophone Performance, Wind Conducting, and Jazz at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM).
As a classical and jazz saxophonist, Yin’s performances range from being a soloist at Carnegie Hall, ensemble player at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, first alto sax in the CCM Jazz Lab Band and the Wind Orchestra, to concerts with jazz artists such as GRAMMY® award winner Charles (Chip) McNeill, and world-class trombone soloist John Fedchock. As a chamber musician, he has worked with virtuoso artists and groups such as James Tocco, The United States Air Force Band Wind Quintet, Dr. Terrence Milligan, Dr. Stephen Peterson, and Ray Cramer. As a conductor, his conducting repertoire includes works by Mozart, Stravinsky, Percy Grainger, Frank Ticheli, Roberto Molinelli and performed by chamber orchestras and saxophone ensembles.
Yin has also appeared as a performer in North American Saxophone Alliance conferences, the Midwest Composers Symposium, and the International Saxophone Symposium, hosted by the United States Navy Band. He premiered works such as Even William’s operatic/film/electroacoustic pieces and Quartet for Saxophone by Brian Raphael Nabors, whose works have been featured in major symphonies and music festivals worldwide.
Yin’s debut album, Reflection, was released in December, 2022, and features “Kalyanamitra”, an original electronic smooth jazz composition; Chaconne in G Minor from the Baroque period by Tomaso Vitali; the Romantic transcriptions of violin virtuoso Pagnini’s Caprice no. 24; contemporary saxophone solo composition “Bab Boujloud”; the saxophone premiere of the choral piece “If Tomorrow Is the Next Life”; and two covers of folk and cinematic music.
As a teacher, Dr. Yin served as a saxophone faculty and lecturer at the CCM Preparatory Department, woodwind specialist at the University of Cincinnati (UC) Marching Band, and assistant director of the UC Jazz Band. He is also a member of the Music Teachers’ Association of California. Yin’s mentors include Dr. James Bunte, Rick VanMatre, Craig Bailey, Dr. Scott Bleck, Bill Tiberio, and Dr. Steven Mauk.
Elizabeth MacDougall is one of the most respected pianists in Mendocino County. An active performer, MacDougall has played as both a soloist and an orchestra member with symphonies and orchestras in Northern California. An experienced music educator, MacDougall serves as a piano instructor at Mendocino College and teaches students of all ages and levels in her private studio. Ms. MacDougall will be teaching two elective courses at MISMA—Sight Reading and Keyboard Fundamentals for musicians outside of the piano program who are interested in learning keyboard as a useful tool. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from the University of the Pacific and a master’s degree in Piano Pedagogy and Performance from Northwestern University.
Loc Huynh, Taiji
Huynh’s fascination with gongfu started at a very young age. When he was seven years old, he saw a Shaolin Temple movie that sparked his interest in this ancient Chinese practice. He began studying Shaolin gongfu and taiji at the age of sixteen and immediately fell in love with the practice. He found the movements beautiful and practical, and he loved how they made him feel.
Huynh’s passion for taiji led him to become a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbal practitioner. He believes that the principles of taiji are deeply connected to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and he uses this knowledge to help his patients achieve better health and wellbeing. He firmly believes that taiji training can benefit all facets of daily life, from physical health, to mental clarity, to emotional balance. Huynh is dedicated to his practice and continues to learn and grow in his training. He is always eager to share his experience with others.
Program director Sophie Wu is a music educator, singer, and one of the visionaries behind the Mendocino International Summer Music Academy. Born in Shanghai, China, Wu began her own journey to experience different educational systems at the age of fifteen by attending schools in various parts of the world, where she also played in jazz bands and sang in vocal groups.
Since 2020, Wu has directed themed recitals and benefit concerts to support music education and foster community building through aesthetics and music. Wu trusts in the power of music and music education to cultivate young people’s beautiful inner qualities, which continues to inspire her to orchestrate meaningful music programs.
Wu teaches voice lessons and co-directs the choir at the IGDVS Girls School and Dharma Realm Buddhist University, where she is also a member of the Office of Development and Strategic Planning. She studied classical vocal performance at Franklin & Marshall College under American operatic soprano Gwynne Geyer and GRAMMY®-nominated soprano Jessica Beebe.