Musical Theatre Songwriting Challenge -

National Endowment for the Arts




Tucker Donelan is a half Japanese, half American senior at the Berkshire School in Sheffield, MA, although he currently lives in New York City. Tucker has had the privilege of living in four continents and has thus cultivated a multicultural and multidisciplinary approach to everything he does. From the bustling metropoles of Johannesburg, Tokyo, and New York to humbler towns in Spain and Massachusetts, Tucker’s own experiences have become the fuel for his creativity. Tucker’s musical journey began at the age of three at the School for Strings in New York City. A classically trained violinist, Tucker learned the foundations of music theory at a young age. Those lessons helped not only in his ability to learn a variety of other instruments over the years, but also in composing and arranging music for chamber music ensembles, a capella groups, and, eventually, theatrical competitions. In addition to music, Tucker is a devoted academic, graduating Cum Laude with honors this spring and heading to Tufts University in the fall where he hopes to study conservation ecology and climatology in addition to continuing his musical passions. However, he also enjoys studying poetry and prose fiction, a testament to his love for the written word and his emerging lyricism. The culmination of academia, his upbringing, and his musical influences are what have created Tucker’s tailored musical style. In global citizenship, Tucker found a desire to seek out and understand the social issues of his communities that he grew up fortunate enough to avoid the consequences of. In school, Tucker found an abundance of legendary writers to learn from. In both the intensive study and performance of music, Tucker found a desire to create and a toolbox of harmony, rhythmic variation, and chord building. However, what is perhaps most important and certainly most relevant to this competition, Tucker has recently had the opportunity to see the music that he wishes to create be accepted into mainstream theater. Tucker has been following Lin Manuel Miranda since Mr. Miranda was performing with his New York based rap group, Freestyle Love Supreme. Mr. Miranda’s recent success in bringing rap to Broadway theaters has empowered Tucker to realize the sum of his musical and academic parts and write music that he believes he is good at writing. Tucker loves music and understands that he has much to learn. He is deeply appreciative of this opportunity and is excited to see what becomes of it.



Jillian Guetersloh is a freshman at Bedford High School in Bedford, MA, where she lives with her parents, brother, and dog. From an early age, Jillian expressed a passion for music, writing, and art. She started singing in her church’s children’s choir in preschool and began piano lessons in kindergarten, then switched to the cello in 4th grade, though she still enjoys playing the piano today. Jillian learned the mechanics of writing contemporary music at the Real School of Music in Burlington, MA where she participated in their week-long RealJams summer program for the past two years. At RealJams, youths are assembled into “bands” based on their instrumental and vocal proficiencies. They learn the conventions of songwriting first then the youths collaborate to write, record a soundtrack, and create a music video for an original song, culminating in a live performance on their final day. In middle school, Jillian was active in musical theater during the school year as well as their summer theater program. Her roles include Rafiki (Lion King Jr), King Julien (Madagascar), and Cheshire Cat (Alice in Wonderland) and she was a cast member in Annie Jr , Pirates of Penzance, and Beauty and the Beast Jr. Jillian was a cellist in the middle school orchestra. She also performed as a vocalist in the middle school’s rock cover band during her seventh and eighth grade years. Now, as a freshman in high school, Jillian has participated in the fall musical Noises Off as part of the backstage crew and in the spring musical Seussical where she played the minor role of Judge Yertle the Turtle. Jillian is currently participating in her high school’s’ playwrights festival, in which students write, direct, design, and perform ten-minute plays. Jillian has written a ten minute play and is directing a play written by another student. She plays cello in the high school orchestra. Outside of music and theater, Jillian also loves painting, traveling, and spending time with 



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