Director of Music Kevin Franco is big on greeting his students as they enter his classroom. This year has been no exception, but what is different is his location. Standing just outside the garden-level door into the Chapel, Mr. Franco has a view across the new academic quad, out across the lake, all the way to Mount Cardigan.
“It’s an incredible view and it’s so great to see everyone congregating on the quad,” he shares. “On the first day of classes we had a lot of fun just waving to everyone.”
Over the summer, the School made some quick but important renovations. The Development Office moved out of the Chapel basement and into a portion of the Marrion Athletic Center that had been used for seventh-grade classrooms. The renovated section of the building will receive a new name at a ceremony to be held on Friday during Fall Family Weekend.
Meanwhile, a construction crew worked to return the Chapel basement to its original intended use—a campus music center—though with several modern features that were not part of the 1964 plan. The crown jewel, says Mr. Franco, is the rehearsal room with plenty of room for ensembles, bands, and orchestras and with a floor-to-ceiling bay of windows that looks over the quad. As the students begin to prepare for the fall concert, this space will be put to use on a daily basis.
“The new Music Center has allowed us to centralize the music program and not worry about finding space for rehearsals,” he says. “School groups, private lessons, and student-organized bands can now easily meet in one place.”
“I want the Music Center to be a resource for the entire community, whether they are composing music for a video project, developing sound effects for the school play, or practicing complicated classical compositions.”Director of Music Kevin Franco
In addition to the large rehearsal room, the Music Center also includes individual practice rooms, a classroom for introductory music courses, and a digital media room. The four practice rooms are furnished with custom acoustic panels for specific instruments, while the digital media room will have two desktop computer stations with Logic Pro software for composing music and mixing multiple tracks.
“I want to make sure there is an opportunity for every boy at Cardigan to be exposed to music,”
says Mr. Franco. “And I want the Music Center to be a resource for the entire community, whether they are composing music for a video project, developing sound effects for the school play, or practicing complicated classical compositions.”
One of Mr. Franco’s favorite things about the new space, however, has nothing to do with music; hints of the building’s history can be found throughout the halls and hidden in the walls. The original sound board for the chapel’s chimes remains in operation in the rehearsal room, and a thick door into the practice rooms marks the entry into what used to be the School’s Cold War bunker. There’s also a fireplace, buried in one of the walls in the rehearsal room; while it’s no longer in use, many long-time members of the Cardigan community remember it well.
“I wish we could have kept the fireplace,” says Mr. Franco. “Imagine having fires during winter rehearsals?”
With or without a fireplace, however, Mr. Franco, as well as music teacher Lindsey Perricone, will have room to grow their program, offering more courses and investing in the quality of the programs that already exist. It begins with an inclusive and enthusiastic greeting at the door and continues with a belief that a strong music program must serve the entire community.