Q&A with Alan Mackwell

Alan Mackwell with banjo

Alan Maxwell

Class of 2020 B.M., Composition

Conservatory student Alan Mackwell (B.M. '20, composition) explains how the High School Composition Intensive (HSCI) faculty taught him how to write, not what to write.

Did you enjoy your experience with HSCI? If so, what made it so enjoyable?

Out of all the summer intensives I participated in, Boston Conservatory’s High School Composition Intensive was the most demanding, informative, and fun. The sheer amount of work that was crammed into two weeks required a lot of intense focus, but having the ability to roam around Boston in my free time was a blast.

What skills did HSCI help you build or strengthen?

I learned to compose quickly. I also learned how to write music that would perform well in a sight-reading situation.

How did the faculty influence your HSCI experience?

The faculty were phenomenal. I have had more than one experience with teachers who try to teach me what to write, but the faculty at HSCI taught me how to write. They were extremely receptive to any kind of music that I wrote and helped me find ways of expressing myself through my style of writing.

How did this program influence you as an artist?

The program inspired me to listen to and write more music for smaller ensembles. It also taught me just how fast paced the composition world can be, and challenged me to develop my ability to write music quickly.

Can you describe a favorite memory from your HSCI experience?

I actually have a couple favorite memories from HSCI. I enjoyed going for walks at night with my roommates after we had all finished writing for the day, and the final performance of our string quartets is also a standout memory for me. Seeing how enthusiastically the musicians played my music and watching them have fun with the quartet was incredibly inspiring.

How would you describe this program to a friend who is considering applying?

HSCI really puts the intense in intensive. Despite doing so much in such a short amount of time, it is still so easy to relax, have fun, and enjoy the company of fellow composers in the city of Boston.