Jaspers Come Together To Celebrate Performing Arts Room Renovation

By Megan LaCreta, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Music will ring from Thomas Hall once again, thanks to the determination of the Manhattan College community.

On Saturday Oct. 15, the Manhattan College community gathered together to celebrate the official reopening of Thomas 517. Throughout the first few weeks of the semester, the performing arts room underwent renovations as the result of a passionate campaign from students and faculty.

In April, The Quadrangle published a letter to the editor from The Society of Friends of 517, representing the performing arts students who use the room most. The letter detailed the poor conditions of the room, including sound leakage, water damage and hazards such as a collapsed ceiling tile that damaged a piano. 

Friends of 517 requested that the college approve a budget for renovations to the room, including repairing the ceiling, updating technology and providing proper soundproofing.

The letter explained that the performing arts community felt abandoned by the college when the neglect to the room continuously went unnoticed. Senior Luis Chavez, one of the authors of the letter, explained the student’s goal in taking their fight public.

“The intention [of the letter] wasn’t to call out or to attack, but the intention was to point out what we felt was unfair,” Chavez said.

The letter achieved its intended purpose when it caught the attention of Interim President Brother Daniel Gardner, explained Andrew Bauer, director of performing arts.

“[Gardner] reached out to me actually because he saw the letter in The Quad,” Bauer said. “And then he reached out to me and he said, we want to do something for performing arts, please propose a plan.”

“We saw the need [for renovations to Thomas 517] when I came into this job,” Gardner said. “It was pretty great because [the performing arts department] works so hard on behalf of our school community, that they deserve to have a fantastic place. So we went out and talked to some of our very loyal alumni and donors, and they came back and took a tour of the room, and they definitely believed in the project. We got them together and they supported it.”

A large number of donors came together to provide the proper funding, with the Marro family contributing a significant amount. Their nephew, former member of Singers and Music Ministry Christian D’Agostino ‘20, spoke to the extent of the renovations at the Thomas 517 reopening ceremony.

“I distinctly remember my sophomore year, the E-board members were scrambling around with buckets to make sure our sheet music wouldn’t get wet,” D’Agostino said. “But looking at this room now, I’m going to be honest. I’m very jealous.”

The renovations have left Thomas 517 with improved soundproofing, hardware floors and raised ceilings, resulting in vastly improved acoustics, shown off at the ceremony by the Music Ministry’s performance of the African American spiritual, “Down in My Soul.”

The ceremony also featured a blessing by Father Thomas Franks, who apologized for any holy water that touched the room’s equipment.

“It’s a lot less water than we’ve seen in the past,” said Bauer, and the room broke into laughter.