Ambassador Alum Makes Music Around the World

by Beth Dolinar, contributing writer

We are always happy to catch up with alumni of our Luminari camps, to learn what they’ve been up to. 

Max Rosen busking on the street in Ireland. What is “busking?” It is the act of singing and/or playing an instrument in public places.

Meet Max Rosen, a singer-songwriter with a budding career. 

He’s an alumnus of the 2017 Ambassador Camp. A native of Pittsburgh and graduate of Taylor-Allderdice High School, Max graduated from Boston University with a degree in Health Sciences. Growing up in a musical family, Max has enjoyed music of all kinds, but began writing songs in a pop-folk style. College travel found him in Ireland, where he took his guitar to the streets. Now back in Pittsburgh, Max performs at open mics, and writes new songs that he records in his home studio. 

He also produces music videos, including this latest for his song “All I Can Do.” It was inspired during a period of isolation and a sense of loss. The video is a celebration of our interconnectedness and potential to create. It’s a reminder that we often have the ability to imbue things with the meaning we choose to give them.

You can watch the music video here: Max Rosen – All I Can Do (Official Video)

Lumos Contributor Beth Dolinar caught up with Max to talk about his songwriting, his thoughts about performing and his memories of his time with Luminari

Share a memory about your time in the Luminari Ambassador camp.

I still clearly remember our trip to DC and visiting the Newseum. I enjoyed getting such an in-depth look into the history of the free press.

How did your interest in music begin? Do you come from a musical family?

My family is musical and I’ve been playing piano for most of my life. I’ve always enjoyed making up melodies and songs on the piano. At a certain point, I realized that I wanted to be writing full songs and compositions.

Share some thoughts about your college experience. What was your major and how did music fit into that?

I majored in Health Science at Boston University. Music didn’t occupy any of my academic life at school but I would practice on my own any chance I got. I kept writing songs and still found a few opportunities to perform.

What was the first song you wrote and performed?

I don’t remember the first piece of music I wrote. However, I remember very memorably one of my first performances of one of my songs. It was at an open mic in high school. I was very nervous but was proud to have done it.

Describe your songwriting and singing. 

It’s a combination of acoustic instrumentation and using the human voice as a tool to build out a song. I think it’d be best described as Alternative Indie or Folk Pop.

Who are some of your favorite singer/songwriters?

I’ve always looked up to Vance Joy, Ed Sheeran, and Dermot Kennedy as songwriters.

You busked with your music while in Ireland. Please share some memories of that. 

One of my favorite memories of busking in Ireland is of playing to a couple who started dancing to the song I was playing. Busking taught me a lot about performing for people. These were the kinds of moments and interactions that stuck with me.

You’ve traveled more than most young people. How has your time spent in other lands and cultures informed our music?

I’m very fortunate to have seen some incredible places and what I choose to write about has been strongly influenced by my experiences in other cultures. It’s important to me that the songs I write have real meaning and that I can address serious topics in ways that remain sensitive.

Some of the best folk and pop songs were written by artists in their teens and early 20s. The question is always, how did someone with somewhat limited life experience write those lyrics. As a young man, where do you get the inspiration for your lyrics?

They often come during or after intense periods. Whether that be loss or experiencing something brand new. When I feel I have something to express I pay attention to it.

What do you like best about performing? 

I love being able to create an experience for people. I think performing is a balance between what the singer enjoys and what the audience is hoping to hear. It’s a fun game to find the right amount of each and curate a good environment.

Describe your creative approach to your video(s). Do you collaborate? 

Of the videos I’ve published so far, I tend to compile footage and then build a story out of the shots. I’ll edit the video either by myself or with friends and family. From there I’ll consider how I can weave everything together to enhance the music.

You record your music in a home studio. What are the challenges of that?

Achieving a good sound for acoustic instruments can be a challenge when recording at home. Outside noises, the shape of the room, and mic positioning can all have a big impact. Learning to navigate this has taught me a lot about proper recording techniques and getting the most out of limited equipment.

What are your hopes for your music career? 

To continually be inspired and work on my craft.
(Here are links to his music)
Apple Music:
YouTube channel:


Beth DolinarAbout the author: Beth Dolinar is a writer, Emmy-award winning producer, and public speaker. She writes a popular column for the Washington “Observer-Reporter.” She is a contributing producer of documentary length programming for WQED-TV on a wide range of topics. Beth has a son and a daughter. She is an avid yoga devotee, cyclist and reader. Beth says she types like lightning but reads slowly — because she likes a really good sentence.