- Performers on the Go
Congratulations to Chris D’Agostino on earning a Master's degree from Harvard University
Updated: May 11
We spent time with Chris D'Agostino today on his music plans for the summer and interviewed him on his experiences in his recently completed Master in Public Policy degree at the Harvard Kennedy School. What was impressive was how Chris managed to continue his music activities and online engagement while being in such a demanding academic graduate program. He set his goals early on inclusive of his music and academic focus, and stuck to them. The balance he obtained between academics and his passion for music enabled him to thrive in the program, and continue to promote his music which now has over 123,055 streams across four songs.
What was your major in the graduate program?
Master in Public Policy which I started in 2021 and completed over 18 months.
What were some of the highlights of your graduate year?
My final project was a great and eye opener experience as I formed a collaborative partnership with a classmate for an energy-focused final project. The joint project was with a classmate that was from South Africa, and he had a relationship with the President's office in South Africa, making it easier to obtain research data. It was helpful having someone from the area we were focused on, as he had insight into the challenges and opportunities confronting the country on their issues with blackouts and an insufficient electric supply, and the need to upgrade their electric grids. The focus was on how the country could improve its current conditions and increase its renewable energy supply. The 70-page project recommended they raise private and public capital to fund the country’s energy needs and focus attention on the financial sector which had significant untapped resources.
We concluded it was feasible to improve the metering process in real time which allowed for more accurate billing and cash flow available for future investments. What worked out great is that my partner had a strong background in finance, so he focused on the funding resources which could be tapped for investing in the energy improvement plan.
What were some of your favorite classes in the master's program?
I completed a class on global development focused on appropriate strategies for building the economies of low-income countries, and did a project on Bangladesh on strategies for diversifying their economy which was dominated in the apparel industry.
I see you have managed to continue playing while studying hard. How have you been able to achieve balance in your life since starting school?
On maintaining a balance between degree work and music, I found finding a seamless transition between the two was made easier by having a super venue owned by Harvard next to the campus and a five-minute walk from my dorm. At the venue, Queens Head Bar, I could easily play a gig that wasn’t time-consuming and could integrate my social life into it at the same time. The top challenge was getting everyone’s attention over loud socializing, so I had to work extra hard on my music selections and engagement tactics to get their attention. After the first gig there, it became easier to organize a set list diverse enough for their music preferences.
What are some of your favorite venues?
My top three favorite venues are the Queen’s Head Pub (Cambridge, MA), Bebop (Boston, MA), and The Verb Hotel (Boston, MA), and I am always discovering new places. If all goes as planned, I hope to stay busy all summer performing and writing music.
What are your career plans after graduation?
Applying for environmental policy advocacy positions in Boston, which also involve frequent travel to Washington, D.C. I’d love to be an environmental lobbyist for good legislation, or legislation that positively influence the environment.
What are your future music plans?
I am now 28 years old and know my ongoing focus has been to release an 8-track album. I envision establishing a central theme for the album, and making it both cohesive and interesting so listeners are interested in listening to all 8 tracks. I also plan to keep on performing and expanding my live performance resume, and following graduation, I plan to enjoy the summer for a couple of months before starting my new public policy career.
What wisdom do you have for others looking to continue playing music and doing shows while in school?
Determine how much effort you want to put into school and music. I made an effort to do well in school, but knew I had other things I wanted to continue doing like my music, so I found opportunities to integrate music into my existing environment and made it all work. I intended to keep my music passion alive and be able to always perform when opportunities came my way.
How have your shows and music played changed over the last year?
I found my last show at the Queen’s Head Pub was the best show yet because I needed an outlet to vent my school stress. The timing was great for a well-needed break and it was a welcome diversion to the demands of my studies.
Who are your favorite artists?
Some artists on my current playlists are:
What is the most surprising thing to happen at a show?
At the Verb Hotel, I sang “Wild Horses”, and then an older gentleman came up to me and said it was he and his wife's 40th anniversary that weekend, and that “Wild Horses” was their wedding song. It was a special moment to see how they enjoyed hearing the song and they felt as if it was all planned for just them. Seeing how my music was a part of their 40-year love story was such a great feeling, and the Verb Hotel is such a great spot to perform at due to being able to meet so many interesting people.
What are your recording plans for 2023? Goals?
Performing out at least once a week in and around the Boston region, and releasing a debut album.
Did you enjoy living in Cambridge?
It is a very youthful city, and there is a lot of potential for new social connections and there are fun events happening all the time.
You may follow Chris on Spotify, and Instagram ,and follow updates on his website at https://chrisdagmusic.com/. We look forward to hearing more about his new album project.