Written by Katherine Wang (Class of 2024) and Amy Liu (Class of 2023)
Photos by Mr. Stan Shoptaugh, Mr. Wayne Chen, Ms. Sophie Wu, Amy Liu, and Emily Tan (Class of 2026)
Under the bespeckled night sky, enveloped by dark trees, the brightly lit lobby of the Mendocino College Center Theatre shone like a beacon in the night. Eager guests were welcomed inside, as ushers directed them to their seats, provided them with recital programs, and notified them of the proper safety procedures. As the audience trickled into the vast auditorium, the lights began to dim, revealing the large poster projected on the stage, which announced the evening’s event: the Infinite Light Winter Recital.
Backstage, performers and students alike were filled with anticipation and excitement, as they prepared eagerly and encouraged each other. The members of the Chinese Dance group secured their hairpieces and practiced in the Green Room, while solo performers warmed up their instruments and ran through their pieces one last time. Younger students peered restlessly out at the audience through the wings of the stage, filled with a mixture of nervousness and excitement.
The performances commenced with the harmonious chanting of “Om Mani Padme Hum” as the elementary and junior high choir members walked down the aisles to join the DRBU students on the stage. Fully assembled, the Wondrous Sound Choir transitioned into a beautiful rendition of the Guanyin Praise. As the clapping died down, the lights brightened to reveal the IGDVS Chinese Dance group, who performed a magical and breathtaking dance inspired by the ancient paintings on the walls of the Dunhuang Caves in China.
Then came the solo performances, with Phoenix Vo (Class of 2023) performing a moving rendition of “Lend Me Your Voice” on the piano, followed by Katherine Wang (Class of 2024) with “Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major” by Mozart on the violin. Next, Cherry Ngo (Class of 2024) performed “Andante et Allegro” on the saxophone, accompanied by Ms. Elizabeth MacDougall.
After a heartfelt introduction by the recital director Ms. Sophie Wu, Mr. Spencer Brewer, a world-class composer and pianist from Mendocino County, performed two original pieces: a whimsical “Parasols in Paris” and an upbeat, jazzy “Knocked Out.” Following this marvelous performance, Dr. Wenbo Yin, a professional saxophonist and Master’s student at Dharma Realm Buddhist University, performed a thrilling piece named “Le Api,” accompanied by pianist Ms. Elizabeth MacDougall.
Dr. Wenbo Yin and Cherry Ngo then performed an energetic saxophone duet called “Jazz Police,” bringing about many laughs and smiles from the audience. Continuing the dynamic jazz atmosphere, Leo Wang (Class of 2026) performed “Happy Time Jazz” on the piano, which was met with much applause from the audience.
Shifting the ambiance of the recital, Katrina Hu (Class of 2025) then performed an elegant piece on the Chinese flute, “綠野仙踪 (The Green Wonderland)”, followed by Hillary Tran (Class of 2023) on the pipa, performing a lively piece called “送我一支玫瑰花 (Give Me a Rose).”
Afterward, Hillary and Amy Liu (Class of 2023) played a self-composed duet titled “雪虐風濤 (Relentless),” evoking stirring images of a battle in the snow. Receiving thunderous applause from the audience, this was followed by Hannah Cheng (Class of 2027) singing “我和我的祖國 (My Motherland),” and Ashley Dong (Class of 2025), singing “神女劈觀 (Shen Nü Pi Guan).” Both performers enamored the audience with their beautiful voices and self-expression.
Next, Shine Yuan (Class of 2024) and Hailey Tran (Class of 2024) performed a self-choreographed dance to the powerful beat of “霍元甲 (Fearless),” followed by Bishnu Batta (DRBU BA Class of 2026) on the bansuri, performing “Raga Yaman.”
Concluding the solo performances, Josette Hanneken (Class of 2027) sang a heartfelt cover of “Almost There” from the Disney movie The Princess and the Frog, and as the stage transitioned for the finale, Alice Sandel (Class of 2023) played a magical harp rendition of “Away in a Manger.”
Last but not least, the Wondrous Sound Choir came together for the finale, performing “Praise to Amitabha” and the school song, “Empty Space,” which was accompanied on the piano by Dr. Susan Rounds, president of Dharma Realm Buddhist University. Skillfully adapted, the praises filled the auditorium with the sound of happiness and compassion, perfectly concluding this memorable evening.
The Infinite Light Recital had come to an end, but the joy and connection it inspired within everyone extended far beyond that one night. Like a candle that can light an infinite number of other candles, the sparks of joyous sharing of music and creativity spread out into the world. As the performers celebrated together after the recital, they felt gratitude and contentment, knowing that their months of hard work and preparation had created something beautiful and wondrous.
Special thanks to Ms. Sophie Wu and Dr. Wenbo Yin for organizing this recital and providing guidance to all the performers, as well as Jin Jr Shr and the other teachers for their support. We would like to thank Mr. Spencer Brewer for inspiring us with his wonderful pieces and Ms. Elizabeth MacDougall for accompanying the performers on the piano. Furthermore, we extend our gratitude to the Fuller Digital Media team and all the ushers and stagehands for their hard work. Lastly, thank you to the DRBU Arts Initiative, the IGDVS Music Department, and all the performers and audience members for making this wonderful recital happen! We hope to see you in the spring for our next recital!