Andrew Brady: A signature departure

Andrew Brady wil speak at commencement on May 23, where he will also debut his original song “Send Me.”

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Andrew Brady wil speak at commencement on May 23, where he will also debut his original song “Send Me.”

Jackie Bussjaeger, Editor in Chief

Commencement is a busy time of year for all seniors, but for senior Andrew Brady, it’s a performance like no other. Brady, a communication studies and music double major, was not only  chosen as commencement speaker for the class of 2015, but also commissioned to compose an original song to be debuted at the commencement ceremony.

This marks a first in Hamline history-—never before has a student written a song for commencement, and it will be a notable change to the tradition-riddled ceremonies usually surrounding graduation. Brady said he was contacted to write a new school song by Events Director Tracey Peters.

“Since this is Linda [Hanson’s] last semester, they thought how cool it would be to do this while we can,” Brady said. “It was her [Tracey’s] brainchild. She and I had never met before, she reached out to Deb [Carbaugh] and Kathy [Thomsen], and they had both put in very nice words for me. She was willing to take a gamble on me, she had never heard my stuff, but she rolled the dice on me, and it worked. This may be the biggest change to the commencement period. Usually you like your tradition and your continuity.”

It’s not the first time Brady has prepared music for Hamline events—in addition to being a music major, he sings with the A Cappella Choir and participates in Hamline Theatre. Last semester, he completed an honors project that resulted in an original composition for the theater department’s production of Macbeth, and he also arranged a song for the President’s Circle Dinner in the fall.

The commencement song, titled “Send Me,” is based on the biblical text of Isaiah 6:8.

“First of all I wanted it to be something that was emblematic of Hamline as a whole,” Brady said. “I wanted to pay kind of a tribute to Hamline’s commitment to service and volunteerism, and at the same time I also wanted to acknowledge Hamline’s Methodist roots. While we are not a religious institution, we do have those religious roots.”

The text stuck out to him for its theme of volunteerism, a key element in Hamline’s commitment to community.

“The verse itself is God reaching out and basically saying, ‘who’s gonna go,’ and it’s Isaiah volunteering. So much of service is just showing up and doing; it’s not God saying ‘you’re going to go do this,’ it’s him stepping up to the plate,” Brady said.

Prior to this composition, the school song was “Promise in the Sound,” but many, including Brady, felt that it lacked something as a song that was meant to be representative of Hamline. Brady described the sound of “Send Me:”

“It has the elements of nostalgia and sentimentality that you would expect from a graduation selection piece. It’s most interesting feature that it gains momentum over time, it becomes this very solid chorus of people, and it reflects the message that I want to convey—that it starts with a singular person and as you continue and volunteer it picks up steam.”

Brady said that after developing the initial idea for the song, it took him between two and three weeks to complete it. Nearly two dozen students have volunteered to perform the piece at commencement.

In his role as commencement speaker, Brady said he took inspiration from the opening line of the the film The Departed.

“The opening line is Jack Nicholson’s character—he says, ‘I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.’ [The speech] is kind of a riff on that. I wanted a speech that could apply to not just graduates, but something you can start working on tomorrow. Some speeches say, you might be a millionaire in the future, but you can take strides to help the environment around you in small ways right now.

It’s the first line of the movie, which I think is a really bold and intriguing way to start the film, and it’s always stuck with me.”

After graduation, Brady plans to be attending the Berklee College of Music, earning his Masters in Scoring for Film and Television in Valencia, Spain. He was one of 33 students to be accepted into the world-renowned program, and he will begin his study in fall 2015; another stepping stone in his path to achieve his ultimate goal of composing music for the screen. Brady credits the opportunities and resources given to him through Hamline as instrumental in his acceptance to the program.

Obviously [I want to thank] the music and theater department. I wholeheartedly believe that I would not have gone into music if I had not come to Hamline. I came in with the [music] scholarship and thought that was it, but then it was, ‘well, I’ll get a minor’, and then, ‘well, I’ll get a major.’ When I realized that I wanted to do music, I realized all the choices I had made were really related to that. My past makes sense in that context, which is a really cool sensation.”