Grant Shueh ’23 wears many hats: internationally-lauded composer and pianist, topical winner of the National High School Poetry Contest, Lawrenceville Performing Arts Camp (LPAC) Head Counselor, and President of the Allegro Council, to name a few. These experiences have made him a role model to Lawrentians in the arts, particularly those who share his passion for music. A classically trained musician turned genre-crossing improvisationalist, his story is that of finding joy in the creative process.
While meeting me for lunch, he gestured to his sandwich to demonstrate its role as a metaphor for his busy life: “My favorite Abbott sandwich has rye bread, turkey breast, tomatoes, and pesto. It’s like a good musical ensemble—the rye is the bass, the foundation of the beat, and the pesto is the melody.” Adjusting his double-handed grip on the concoction, he remarked, “I’m the conductor, holding it all together.” It’s clear from his expansive list of accomplishments that Shueh excels at “holding it all together;” his aptitude for leading initiatives gives him a talent for organization influenced by his work as a composer.
However, this musician prefers the cultivated chaos of jazz to rigid musical structure, bemoaning that “baroque music was meant to be improvisatory.” In fact, his favorite music class that he’s taken at Lawrenceville is Jazz Improv (JI), a “truly unique experience.” (He would like to shout out Satvik Dasiraju ‘23, a former JI classmate, comparable overachiever, and “GOAT.”) Grant has an optimistic view of improvisation at Lawrenceville, pointing out how it’s “built into Foundations of Music when students are taught to compose.” Furthermore, he and Henry Metz ’24 performed an improvisation at this October Midday Music recital, which usually features western classical music.
Shueh aims to change that, seeing this fixation as limiting to both performers and audiences. This year, he hopes to foster casual, approachable “jam sessions,” creating collaborative experiences that get Lawrentians excited about original music. Even if you are unfamiliar with this branch of the arts, Shueh hopes that you’ll consider getting involved with music at Lawrenceville this year and has many suggestions for doing so. He recommends joining an ensemble, applying for the Allegro Council, or reaching out to him or Director of Music Robert Palmer–they’ll be sure to keep an ear out for you.