We started planning this concert just over three months ago. We had an idea of what we wanted to see, we had family and friends who promised to help, and we had a dream. The dream was originally Dragon’s dream – to raise enough funds to provide free music instruction for a full Band and Orchestra. As my friend Hanju says, “It all starts with a dream.”
But, that was it. Daniel and I had never planned a concert or a big fundraiser. But we had friends that wanted to support us. The OCSA Wind Ensemble was the first to promise that they would play. Then, Newsong allowed us to use their acoustically perfect sanctuary. Pretty soon, we had a committee of friends that met week after week, dividing and conquering, each person contributing his or her gifts of organization, or calling on sponsors, or running an event. We received offers from talented artists to perform, to help us design invitations and programs, to produce a video, to provide food, to deliver flowers. People gifted us with amazing prizes for the raffle and silent auction.
And then, last Saturday, it all came together. The church looked beautiful, all decked out in red and black, Dragon’s favorite colors. Student volunteers from Beckman High School’s Stargazer Club came out to help set up, serve food, make Italian sodas. Hannah’s friends from Pioneer Middle School came out to man the auction. And our Advisory Team came out to run everything. When we first started planning, we were worried we might have trouble getting people to the concert on this busy May weekend. On Saturday, we had over 500 people in attendance. Daniel and I were overwhelmed with the love and support we felt from Dragon’s friends and our friends — people who flew in or drove in from other states, other cities, friends of ours from when we were eight and friends we met just two weeks ago.
The music was incredible. We started with Vlad Medel on the organ playing the Sia hit, “Chandelier,” filling the sanctuary with song. Then three of Dragon’s high school friends took the stage to sing Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire.” Dragon loved Ed Sheeran’s music, and they chose that song as a tribute to Dragon. Our Master of Ceremonies, Comedian Paul Kim, welcomed everyone, making us laugh as he introduced the musicians. Then our Brass Ensemble, under the direction of Jeffrey de Seriere, played four short pieces, amazing us with how far they had come in ten short lessons. And then… the OCSA Wind Ensemble. Starting with a grand piece, “Hounds of Spring,” with conductor Teren Shaffer at the helm, the Wind Ensemble blew us away with their musicality and their virtuousity. AJ Rafael ended the evening with his beautiful voice, singing originals such as “We Could Happen” and the emotional “Without You.” AJ played his last song, “Starlit Nights,” over a slideshow of Dragon, which ended with the exhortation, “Reach for the Stars, Stargazers.” This was the theme to the concert, and a fitting ending to an evening meant to remember and inspire.
On our way home, Daniel and I talked about how wonderful it was that everything came together. “He would have loved it, you know.” Daniel said, turning to me. “Dragon would have enjoyed that concert.”
Of course he would have loved it. We designed the concert with Dragon’s tastes in mind, from the red & black theme to the casual dress, from sponsoring the brass ensemble to the choice of music. We felt our Dragon in every detail of the evening. We missed our Dragon with every note and every song.