Jaspers reunites to celebrate the renovation of the Performing Arts Hall – Le Quadrangle

By Megan LaCreta, Arts and Entertainment Editor

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

On Saturday, October 15, the Manhattan College community came together to celebrate the official reopening of Thomas 517. During the first few weeks of the semester, the Performing Arts Hall was renovated following a passionate campaign by students and teachers.

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 the most. The letter detailed the room’s poor conditions, including sound leaks, water damage and hazards such as a collapsed ceiling tile that damaged a piano.

Friends of 517 asked the college to approve a budget for the hall’s renovations, including repairing the ceiling, updating technology, and proper soundproofing.

The letter explained that the performing arts community felt let down by the college when the hall’s neglect continually went unnoticed. Elder Luis Chavez, one of the letter’s authors, explained the student’s goal in going public with his fight.

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

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

“[Gardner] in fact, he contacted me because he saw the letter in The Quad,” Bauer said. “And then he contacted me and he said, we want to do something for the performing arts, please come up with a plan.”

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

A large number of donors have come together to provide the appropriate funding, with the Marro family making a significant contribution. Their nephew, former Singers and Music Ministry member Christian D’Agostino ’20, spoke about the scale of the renovations during the Thomas 517 reopening ceremony.

“I vividly remember my sophomore year, the E-board members scrambling with buckets to make sure our scores didn’t get wet,” D’Agostino said. “But looking at this piece now, I’m going to be honest. I’m really jealous.”

The renovations left Thomas 517 with better soundproofing, material floors, and raised ceilings, resulting in significantly improved acoustics, highlighted during the ceremony by the Music Ministry’s performance of the Afro-Spiritual American, “Down in My Soul”.

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

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