Haverford students have long had a broad and enthusiastic engagement with music on campus, but finding the space to explore that passion used to be something of a challenge. The many activities of the busy Music Department were divided between Union Hall and Roberts Hall, limited rehearsal space for campus ensembles was stretched beyond capacity, classrooms were used for lessons and coaching, and student musicians often practiced in basement rooms or backstage instrument storage areas.
With the completion of a new addition to Roberts Hall, the Music Department now has a beautiful—and centralized—home. The two-story structure, which spans the back of Roberts and extends a glass-walled wing toward Union, houses administrative and faculty offices, practice rooms, a classroom, an expanded music library, and the stunning new Michael Jaharis Recital Hall. With an entry facing Lloyd Green on the upper level, and another on the lower level looking out toward the Duck Pond, the building connects to the campus landscape in a dramatic way and gives the formerly scattered music program a real presence on campus.
The Roberts Hall addition is the work of Boston-based architecture firm William Rawn Associates, which also designed Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood (the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra) and has created recital halls for Penn State University and Bowdoin College, a theatre and dance facility for Williams College, and many other high-profile arts-related projects. Bringing a real Haverford connection to the music building design were Clifford Gayley ’83, the principal architect on the project, and Kevin Bergeron, project architect and a Class of 2023 parent.
According to Richard Freedman, professor of music and chair of the department, the brainstorming for a transformed music facility began a decade ago. While much of the original wish list has been realized, his favorite part of the design is how it brings the many aspects of music study and music-making together and makes them visible. “For the first time in my 35-plus years at the College, students can now see and hear how the various dimensions of their musical education fit together, from private study to classroom, and from rehearsal to performance,” he says. “They have the benefit of lovely, acoustically flattering and climate-controlled spaces for their music-making, and have access to a superlative music library where they can put their musical ideas in the context of the great traditions from around the world. And above all, we have the Michael Jaharis Recital Hall, with its great acoustics and peerless view. If asked to sum it up, I would say: ‘Together, for the first time, everything you need for a great musical education.’ ”
Join us on a tour of the new space. All photos by Patrick Montero unless otherwise specified.
Where do buildings come from? To keep tuition as low as possible, Haverford’s operating budget isn’t structured to accommodate major building projects. The College relies on philanthropy to sustain, innovate, and grow our programs and facilities. A gift to the College made by the widow of Charles Roberts, Class of 1864, supported the construction of Roberts Hall in 1903. Its recent renovation and expansion was 100 percent funded by the generosity of alumni, families, and friends.
Read more from the fall 2021 issue of Haverford magazine.