Tom Donnelly

Flash back with me for a moment to 1992. The recession raged. George Bush was talking about “no new taxes.” Clinton was to become king. The date was Sept. 7. It was my first day of junior high school. At the time, I thought it was going to be just another day in the life of Tom Donnelly. As I entered the band room, I thought I was joining the beginner band. My schedule read as such. Then again, on that day, I thought I was destined to become a famous saxophone player. I was wrong on all accounts.

I was certainly no prodigy. Little did I know at that moment, however, that this one instance of make-believe, with the sole intent of saving face, would come to dominate my life all through junior high school, high school and all the way up to this very second. The challenge the art form provided for me was one unlike any I had experienced before, and the rewards for accomplishment were proportionally as sweet.

Being at Georgetown for a year and a half, I had almost forgotten how much the performing arts once defined who I was. More importantly, I also recalled how performing, sharing one’s art form, could and should be fun. Many of those proud memories of my high school performances have been pushed so far back into my subconscious by the glaring inadequacy of the performing arts program here that I often forget how much performance used to be a part of me.

Thank you Chimes. Thank you Phantoms. Thank you Beelzebubs. Thank you Amalgimates. For what, you ask? For reminding me of the thrill of performing and also filling me with an overwhelming feeling of anticipation.

As I sat down to write this piece, my actual intent was largely unknown to me. All I knew was that the Cherry Tree Massacre so moved me that I needed to express it in writing and I needed the university to understand how I feel and why I feel the way I do.

When all is said and done, we do have a large pool of talented artists, yet the performing arts program at Georgetown is woeful. Everybody knows that. Everybody complains about that. We get nowhere. Yes, the school is finally standing up and taking note of the fact that compared to the other “elite” schools with which we compare ourselves, our performing arts department is at the absolute bottom of the list. Hell, my high school had far better equipment and facilities than we do, my good old New York public high school, that is.

So, in light of all this, what do we do? Right now, we have people who absolutely love their art form and, in spite of the situation, came to this school and are still trying to express themselves in their various mediums of expertise. I say it’s time for these voices to be heard. Voice your concerns. Be active, not in a revolutionary, “we-must-take-up-arms” attitude (at least not yet). Instead, let’s open up a legitimate dialogue with the university and see where it leads us.

In the end, I see music as something that can bring us all together as a community, both musicians and non-musicians, through adding new voices to the great dialogue that is a Jesuit undergraduate education. That is, after all, why we’re all here isn’t it, for diversity, to educate our whole selves, to define ourselves as persons before we enter the “real world.” The Jesuit education, at its very core, is supposed to provide the young individual with an opportunity to test all facets of human wisdom, so one can later choose who they want to be through that exploration.

How can we really claim to be educating the whole person with such a glaring deficiency in such an important discipline, the performing arts? I don’t know. What I do know is that when all is said and done, I’m left like the others who are interested, largely broken and largely empty with a void that can’t be filled by anything the university provides. The lack hurts.

Ultimately, if this frustration sounds like you, give me a call. We’ll talk and we’ll make this thing right.

Tom Donnelly is a sophomore in the College.

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