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Madison ’15 advocates for student involvement in arts

By Dana Trismen

Section: Arts, Top Stories

September 6, 2013

When Charlie Madison was 13 years old, he sat down for a family dinner. As he ate, his mother asked the family to write down what they wanted to be when they grew up. Madison’s sister wrote she wanted to be a teacher. Madison wrote he wanted to be a playwright and create songs for musicals while living in Manhattan. He pinned his dreams to the refrigerator.

Now Madison is a junior at Brandeis. When he visits home, he realizes he has come full circle. His aspirations are the same and Brandeis has only furthered his interest in the arts.

“I took a class with Neal Hampton, the orchestra director, called, Composing for Broadway. It was amazing, and that sort of spurred my interest,” said Madison.

He is a double major in music and psychology. He has thoroughly invested himself in the arts at Brandeis, performing in plays and in the a cappella group, Company B. As the musical director of the a cappella group, he oversees the arrangements and teaches them to the vocalists himself.

“We perform the oldies,” said Madison of Company B, “anything 25 years or older. As I graduate, we’re approaching the 90s. I’m super jazzed about that, and I love Mariah Carey. I wish I could be here an extra year to sing Mariah Carey,” he said, laughing.

Madison performed as the title character in the musical, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” during his first year. This semester, he will star in “[title of show],” which will go up in October.

Madison enjoys singing, but his first love is the piano. “Learning piano, especially as a composer, is a foundation musically. It helps you learn other instruments. It’s opened so many doors,” he said.

He has also become a presence on campus through his job as a Brandeis Undergraduate Group Study tutor for music. But he is brimming with more than just advice on how to play the piano or pass a music theory class.

“I’d say Slosberg is like this very foreign place on campus,” he said, when asked to give advice to aspiring music students. “A lot of people are afraid of the commitment that it takes, and it is not actually that big of a commitment. I think it’s just really good to take part in the arts.”

As Madison argues for student participation in the arts, he remarks that first-years may be entering a different environment than in years past. As senior thesis productions become more popular, much of the acting and musical talent have flocked to the senior thesis festival.

“The arts community is changing at Brandeis,” he said.

While Madison has stayed true to his lifelong dream to make it in the arts, he has some reservations. He is aware of the fact that searching for a job in composing musical theater, with such few openings, can be like finding a needle in a haystack.

“Majoring in psychology is kind of a back-up plan,” said Madison, who mentioned his interest in working as a therapist. “But because I’m a double major, I’m going all out and applying to grad school, for a Ph.D. in psychology and then also MFA programs for musical composition. They are two opposite directions and hopefully I won’t have to decide because I’ll only get into one,” he said.

But given Madison’s successes, that won’t be likely.

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