Photo courtesy of Andrew Gaffney

Math Meets Music in the Mind of Andrew Gaffney

It’s a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of the Chocolate Bar rush hour, but Andrew Gaffney, MCAS '16, is unfazed by the hustle and bustle of the students around him. As he settles into his chair to talk with me about his life and accomplishments, he exudes an impressive air of serenity amidst the frenzied chaos.

Gaffney, however, is far from idle in his daily collegiate schedule. Wrapping up his time in Chorale and the Theatre Department at Boston College with an upcoming musical theatre piece featuring his own musical compositions, he certainly still has a lot on his plate.

“I joined Chorale in my freshman year,” he says, noting that choir was something he had been involved with most of his life. “It was something I wanted to continue doing, even though I didn’t necessarily know it was something I’d be really involved with.”

A similar story seems to hold truth for Gaffney’s theatre career—after being cast in three shows during his sophomore year, he started to recognize the huge role that theatre was going to inevitably play in his BC experience.

“Theatre has kind of taken over with its huge time commitment, especially in the last few years,” says Gaffney. He touches on his enthusiasm working in Carousel, the musical production put on by the Theatre Department last semester.

Photo courtesy of BC MT Wing / Facebook

Photo courtesy of BC MT Wing / Facebook

Throughout his four years here, Gaffney has always taken an interest in the arts. He was a part of the Marching Band during his freshman year, he sings at Sunday morning masses, and he even started a group called Musical Theatre Wing, or MT Wing for short, in which he serves as the current music director. In MT Wing, he is able to put on a few smaller events a year, like Cabaret this year, for people with an interest in musical theater, whether they’re currently involved in the Theatre Department or not.

As far as Gaffney’s experience in music composition goes, he admits that the desire to compose came about very organically. “It was a very slow process,” he says. “I guess it started when I really started regularly listening to classical music.”

A piano player since the first grade and classical music aficionado since his sophomore year of high school, Gaffney slowly realized his desire to compose music—and he took it by the reins.

“I didn’t know anyone who wrote music and didn’t have any classes to teach me these things,” he says. “It was sort of something I just started for fun. Each time you start a new project, you know, you just wake up one morning and suddenly realize, ‘Okay, today is the day, I’m gonna start writing this piece.’”

After three or four years of practice, Gaffney’s skill in music composition became a prominent part of his creative identity. At BC, he found MT Wing to be a perfect outlet for his music. “Now I have this as a platform to show it off,” he laughs. People Weren’t Meant to Sing, an MT Wing event last spring and an Andrew Gaffney original musical, was Gaffney’s first performance of that scale—from there, he has only gone up.

On Friday, April 15, MT Wing put on a "mini musical" outside of its regular season, serving as a showcase for Gaffney’s latest compositions.

“This is an extra thing that they’re willing to do for me,” he adds. “It’s a couple of songs I’ve sort of written unconnected to other things, and it’s cool to have someone sing them before I leave BC.”

As far as Gaffney’s academic career at BC goes, he continues to show the same level-headedness and dedication to the arts as in his extracurricular aspects. As a music and math double major, Gaffney recognizes that this unique duality lends a “really nice balance” to his life.

“They go really well together, but they are very different,” he says. “Music is a notoriously difficult area of study, since you spend years asking ‘What is music?’ and find out that nobody has a really good answer.”

He recognizes that the abstract side of music can be quite mind-numbing, so he uses math as his outlet for obtaining a more well-rounded, liberal arts education.

“I have three math classes and one music class this semester, so that music class really helps to balance it out,” he laughs. “My double major keeps me sane.”

Photo courtesy of BC MT Wing / Facebook

Photo courtesy of BC MT Wing / Facebook

As far as his plans for the future, Gaffney continues to maintain a very calm and collected mindset.

“I would like to continue on with musical education,” he says, almost matter-of-factly—a stark contrast to the fact that he came into BC not thinking that music was even something that he would want to pursue.

“There’s still so much more that I need to learn, both technically and on the business side,” he says. “But BC has been wonderful because I get to study music and math, and be in shows, and do other things, and have the support to make things up as I go along.”

The small and tight-knit music department was a huge help in Gaffney’s road to career path discovery. He notes that it was very personal, and that he really got to know the people within the program.

“Here, your professors will teach you the things you need to know, but if you want to do something more with that, then you have to figure it out on your own,” he says. “But when you say, ‘hey, I just came up with this thing,’ people are more than willing to help you.”

And the support that he’s received certainly shines through in his accomplishments. From channeling his creative side through his extracurriculars to seeing his own musical compositions through to their performances, Gaffney boasts a particularly impressive resume—and still manages to stay grounded through it all.

As far as a personal mantra, both in his time at BC and following on to his next step into the working world, Gaffney’s motivation is clear. “We’re all just here to experiment,” he says. “Who knows what the future will hold?”

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