Artist Faculty

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 hails 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 plus arrangements of Gershwin (It Ain’t Necessarily So), Hendrix (Angel), and a pair of classic folksongs (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 master classes 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 also 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

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. Sherman is co-artistic director of MusicXHabitatXArt, an experimental art and performance collective based in China, USA, and UK. Sherman has performed in France, China, Japan, Israel, Spain, USA and has lectured at Shantou University, Meilin Arts School, The College-Conservatory of Music, and The Evergreen State College.

Sherman’s 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 piano repertoire post-1900—have been exhibited in Paris, China, Portland, L.A., and The Jupiter Museum. Their ongoing project “Audible Light” is an immersive communal performance-installation set to be first premiered in Zürich in 2024. 

Sherman’s current recording project features György Kurtág’s works for solo piano; joined will be an interdisciplinary art-book extending beyond the recorded medium: reflecting similar 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, Porto Pianofest Portugal where he was guest artist, and in the USA. 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, Catherine Rollin. Sherman has worked with artist-teachers Richard Goode, Robert McDonald, Julian Martin, Emanual Krasovsky, Dmitri Bashkirov, Ursula Oppens, Jerome Lowenthal, Tatiana Zelickman, Frederic Chiu. Sherman is a current DMA candidate at the College-Conservatory of Music in piano performance where he also completed his Artist Diploma. Sherman is a laureate of the Tel-Hai International Piano Masterclasses in Israel, Bowdoin, Gijon, and Orford International Festivals.

Dr. Wenbo Yin

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 Evan 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.

Rev. Heng Sure

Heng Sure is a senior disciple of Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. When he’s not travelling to deliver talks and lead discussions on topics such Buddhism and Veganism, you’ll find him at home part of the year at Berkeley Buddhist Monastery in California, and the other part at Gold Coast Dharma Realm in Queensland Australia.

Born in Toledo, Ohio, he attended the University of California at Berkeley from 1971-1976, where he was active in theatre and music. After receiving his M.A. in Oriental Languages, he met his teacher, Hsuan Hua, who would later ordain him in 1976 at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB), as “Heng Sure” – a Dharma name which means “Constantly Real.” In 2003, he earned a PhD in Religion from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley.

He is perhaps best known for a Three Steps One Bow Pilgrimage he made from 1976 to 1979, along 800 miles of the California Coast from Pasadena to CTTB in Ukiah. During his pilgrimage, and for three more years after he arrived at CTTB, he maintained a vow of silence.

Heng Sure began playing guitar at the age of 16, and although he took a break from music while turning his focus towards a monastic life, he returned to the instrument in 2000. Master Hua felt it would be a great way to make the teachings accessible to Western ears, and encouraged Heng Sure to use his musical talents to turn the Dharma Wheel. And so for close to 20 years now, music has played an integral role in his life and teachings. In addition to three CD’s of Buddhist Songs and Stories, he co-produced an instructional banjo DVD, Zen Banjo, drawing on the connections he has found between meditation and music.

As a leading expert on Buddhist Sutras, he works on translating many Mahayana texts from their original Chinese into English. When he’s in Berkeley, he gives weekly Dharma Talks on Saturday evenings at the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, which are also broadcast online.


Sophie Wu

Sophie Wu is a music educator, singer, co-founder and one of the visionaries of the Mendocino International Summer Music Academy. Born in Shanghai, China, Sophie 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, Sophie has directed themed recitals and benefit concerts to support music education and foster community building through aesthetics and music. She trusts in the power of music and music education to cultivate people’s beautiful inner qualities, which continues to inspire her to orchestrate meaningful music programs. 

Sophie teaches voice lessons and co-directs music programs at the IGDVS Girls School and Dharma Realm Buddhist University, where she is also a member of Development and Strategic Planning, and Academic Affairs. She studied classical vocal performance at Franklin & Marshall College under American operatic soprano Gwynne Geyer and GRAMMY® nominated soprano Jessica Beebe.