Jaharis Recital Hall, an expansion of Roberts Hall, opened this fall and provides Haverford’s Music Department with new practice rooms, a new music library, and a beautiful, window-covered, acoustically sophisticated recital hall. So this year’s annual end-of-semester concerts looked–and more importantly–sounded amazing.
Jaharis is “a beautiful hall,” said Professor of Music Heidi Jacob, who directs the Haverford and Bryn Mawr Chamber Music Program, which held its first concert in Jaharis in December. “The acoustics are great for chamber music.” The space is a major upgrade from MacCrate Recital Hall in Union, where they previously performed. (The recent chamber music performance was also the ensemble’s first in-person concert in over two years.)
The Bi-Co Chamber Singers also got to perform in the new space for their annual winter concert earlier this month. “You can hear everything in a way that you can’t in any of our other spaces,” said Assistant Professor of Music Nathan Zullinger, who directs the group. “It’s a very intimate space and the audience feels very present. It’s like performing in your living room, in some ways.”
The performers appreciated it, too. First-year Jacob Kohn enjoyed their first college performance in Jaharis. “I feel like it’s a space that lends itself well to [performing],” they said. “There’s enough space for us to kind of all spread out and socially distance, which I think is really good given our COVID situation. Being able to socially distance in a space like that is really cool.”
Returning students particularly appreciated the new venue, as they had spent the past two years giving virtual performances. “It’s really nice to be back to in-person performances,” said soloist Gabriela Godin ’23. “It’s really different singing in front of a camera versus actual people, you have energy to feed off of.”
Fellow soloist Ryan Murphy ’23 agreed. “It feels like you’ve been holding your breath for a long time and you finally able to sing again,” he said. Senior Alissa Vandenbark is grateful that she is able to perform in the building during her last year at the school. “It’s so nice as a senior to be able to have my last shows in such a lovely space in a time where we can sing inside again,” she said.
It was fortuitous that the opening of the new space coincided with a return to live performance. (There is still universal masking indoors on campus.) And while it hosted professional musicians throughout the semester, such as Revolution Winds and the Momenta Quartet, it was particularly exciting to see the space inaugurated by the student performers in their annual concerts. “It’s exactly how we hoped it would be,” said Zullinger. “It’s a great space and it felt great to be in there and [we’re] looking forward to many great performances.”