SHS Students Selected for All-State Composer’s Forum


Caitlin Quinlan

Madelyn Poppish, Autumn Levirne, and Matthew Carolan participated in the All-State Composers Forum

Caitlin Quinlan, Contributing Writer

“They worked really hard on what they created, and they showed a lot of creativity and enthusiasm,” SHS music teacher Adam Gruschow said about his students who participated in the inaugural Massachusetts All-State Young Composers Forum.

On Thursday, March 2nd, three SHS students traveled to Westford, Massachusetts, to participate in the Forum. This was the first time Scituate students had participated in a music composition program of this scale. Four of Scituate’s students were accepted into the program, and three attended the event: junior Matthew Carolan, freshman Autumn Levirne and freshman Madelyn Poppish. Students submitted their compositions under the electronic genre–as opposed to traditional notated music or songwriting–and created a track from one of the three genres. The compositions were then presented to experts from colleges such as UMass Lowell and Berklee School of Music in Boston. 

Poppish said she has always loved music and knew a few years ago that she wanted to start composing. Poppish enjoys hip-hop and R&B music, two genres that rely on music composition. 

Both Carolan and Levirne credit Gruschow as their music composition mentor. Through his work with the music tech classes, Gruschow introduced students to the idea of composing their own music. Since Levirne and Carolan have taken Music Technology, they mutually agreed it’s an “interactive, student-driven environment” that allowed them to expand their knowledge from small apps like GarageBand and BandLab to larger platforms such as Ableton Live. “His ability and style of teaching really enabled me to pursue a much higher degree of composition through electronic music,” Carolan stated.

Starting his musical studies in 4th grade, Carolan selected the flute as his instrument of choice. He also took up the alto saxophone in a jazz band setting entering his freshman year. Saying he enjoys a wide variety of music, Carolan has participated in music festivals like SEMSBA and Districts on both the junior and senior levels. 

Carolan explained that he wanted to experience a higher level of music and dive into the world of composing by the time he was in 6th grade. Starting small by using the app GarageBand and not knowing exactly what he was getting into, Carolan took his music composition to the next level with the assistance of Gruschow’s music technology class. He now likes to spend his free time composing music, focusing on electronic music and a few jazz pieces.

Like Carolan, Levirne uses the platform Ableton to create her compositions. She has big dreams for her future and hopes to study music in college. Recalling her elementary music experience, she said, “I remember specifically I chose the clarinet because I was curious as to what every single button did.” In 6th grade, Levirne started playing the bassoon while also teaching herself to play the piano. 

During COVID, Levirne started composing on the BandLab platform and felt like she needed to start making her own chord progressions and melodies. She said her father has been incredibly supportive of her interest in music, which has been motivational. According to Gruschow, Levirne received strong recognition during the festival: “A choir of students got to hear Autumn’s piece, and at the end, all of them came up to her to say things like, ‘Autumn that was so good!’”