8th Annual Musician in Residence Brings an Ethereal Vocal Style to Severn

For our 2020 Dillon Moran Musician in Residence program, New York-based singer-songwriter Mackenzie Shivers joined us for two days of performances and workshops for our Middle and Upper School students with a final show open to Severn families and friends on Friday evening. From Irish music with Chamber Ensemble and vocal training for our choral groups to discussion sessions about songwriting, Mackenzie gave our students a peek into the life of a professional musician, offering practical advice to let their creativity shine.

Who is Mackenzie Shivers?

Mackenzie Shivers is a New York-based singer-songwriter known for her timeless voice and creative blend of classical, Celtic, and southern styles. She wows audiences with complex instrumental arrangements accompanied by otherworldly vocal melodies. During her performances at Severn, she moved seamlessly from rhythmic compositions on the baby grand piano to the Nord synth, where she looped organ and electric piano tones to create a robust, room-filling sound. Her latest album, "The Unkindness," demonstrates the many layers of her talents both as a performer and producer. As she said to our students during a Q&A session, “I love playing on stage, but the studio is where I can get the most creative and push the limits of what song can be.”
Musician in Residence Mackenzie Shivers performing at Severn School
Mackenzie performing for our Upper School students.

Making Music as a Community

Mackenzie played stunning concerts for both our Middle and Upper School communities, but what our students loved the most about her visit was the chance to perform for and alongside her during the many workshop sessions. For the entire day on both Thursday and Friday, Mackenzie helped our students fine-tune songs they have been working on this year and rehearsed with specific groups for the show on Friday evening. Although the sessions were geared toward student musicians at Severn, she invited the entire Upper School to observe, ask questions, and support their peers. Sessions included:
  • Irish music with Chamber Ensemble
  • Rehearsal with Treble Choir
  • Q&A with Middle School Performing Arts
  • Rehearsal with Jam Band
  • Rehearsal with Breakwater
  • Singer-songwriter workshop
  • Discussion about musical influences and writing process
Scroll below for a peek at the workshops in action.


Bringing It All Together

The purpose of Musician in Residence Program is to inspire our entire community to celebrate the joys of great music — as songwriters, performers, and audience members. Friday evening’s performance was an impressive display of that purpose brought to life as members of Severn’s vocal and instrumental groups joined Mackenzie in Price Auditorium to perform her dynamic and driving original tune, “Phoenix.” Through Mackenzie’s expert coaching, our students created a cohesive and powerful sound, radiating both finesse and confidence on stage.

Music education at Severn reaches beyond the bounds of performance and theory into the soul of what makes listening to and creating music so meaningful. Through programs like this, our students develop an appreciation not only for different types of music and the cultures they reflect, but also for the value of working together through unique and varied musical experiences.
Severn School students musicians performing on stage with Musician in Residence Mackenzie Shivers
The full ensemble performing "Phoenix."

About the Program

The Dillon Moran Musician in Residence program was created in the fall of 2012 to commemorate the passion, exuberance and solid musicianship exemplified by Dillon Moran, Severn School Class of 2013, whose life was tragically cut short in the fall of 2011. The program invites outside musicians to spend a concentrated period of time at Severn working with students, faculty, and the entire community to inspire, create and perform great music. 
Severn School Musician in Residence with community members.
Marty Moran, Barb Moran, Mackenzie Shivers, and Head of School Doug Lagarde

Lower School

Upper School