At just 14 years old, Mackenzy Goleski is achieving a dream that many songwriters never do: his original composition, “Wrath of the Stars,” will be played by a live band with an audience next week.
Mackenzy—friends call him Max—will perform the piece with his Tuckahoe School bandmates at the school’s spring concert on Tuesday, May 28. The performance will be the first of its kind at Tuckahoe, Max said.
“This is my last year at Tuckahoe, and I’m going out with a bang,” he said this week.
According to Tuckahoe’s music teacher, Peter Falango, who has been working closely with Max to transpose the song for the school band, “Wrath of the Stars” is intense and triumphant.
“Max’s composition feels like a look back into the energy and emotion of becoming a teenager,” Mr. Falango said. “Max’s piece fits the band very well.”
The song started simply as an assignment in music class but grew into a serious piece of music.
Max, a self-taught piano player, based his song on a character he came up with in an English class assignment, he said. The class was instructed to come up with their own Edgar Allan Poe-like story. Catching on quickly, Max created a character who seeks revenge on the Manhattan Project scientists who developed the first atomic bombs during World War II, after an explosion sickens everyone with radiation.
Capturing the intensity of the character in his composition, Max included a lot of fast sixteenth notes in his energetic but dark-sounding melody.
The three-minute instrumental started as a one-minute tune, and took Max and Mr. Falango two to three months to transpose for all instruments in the band, including tuba, trombone, French horn, trumpet, saxophone, flute, clarinet, and drums.
“Each time I would see him, Max would have a little more written,” Mr. Falango said. “Soon, he started stopping by during lunch and after school to work on it.”
Max’s inspiration typically comes from music from anime, Japanese cartoon dramas, as well as rock music he delves into. But he said he owes it to Mr. Falango, special education teacher and percussionist Brady Wilkins, and his best friend Bianca for helping him with his song.
Mr. Falango said, however, that Max is the one who made it happen. “I didn’t give Max much more than an instrument to play on and the freedom to be creative,” he said. “When the prospect of performing his piece with the band came up, it was Max’s insistence that made it happen.”
When he finished his first draft, the singer/pianist/composer casually approached Mr. Falango about his music. “When I brought it up, I was half-joking,” he said. “When it actually happened, I thought, ‘What did I just get myself into?’”
Despite his uneasiness at first, Max’s natural talent in music has flourished, according to Mr. Falango.
“If Max stays on the musical trajectory he is on, he will absolutely have a future in music,” he said. “I can see a college-bound Max with an overflowing portfolio of music. Most importantly for his future, Max isn’t shy about promoting his music. That will be his best asset as he continues in music.”
His mother, Melissa Goleski, said she is proud of her son, not just because he wrote and promoted “Wrath of the Stars,” but because he has overcome difficult circumstances in doing so. Max has Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, and oppositional-defiant disorder.
“It is nice to see him embrace his uniqueness and do something in a positive way,” she said. “When he plays at home, I can’t help but cry. His music reaches into you and touches you inside.”
For his debut on May 28, at 7 p.m., Max will don coattails and a fedora at the spring concert—accomplishing just one of many dreams.