Harker community celebrates opening of new performing arts facility


Nicole Chen

Upper school instrumentalists practice in one of the rehearsal spaces of the center. The facility also includes a series of dressing rooms.

by Anika Rajamani, Reporter

The Harker community gathered together for the opening ceremony of the Rothschild Performing Arts Center at the upper school last Friday. The event included a ribbon-cutting ceremony, performances in the Patil Theater and self-guided tours to explore the various classroom and rehearsal spaces in the new building.

The three ribbons were cut by the Patil and Rothschild families with the Board of Trustees, the architects in charge of building the new center and the teachers in the upper school performing arts department joined by select students representing different performing arts disciplines.

Welcome speeches were given by Head of School Brian Yager as well as Chair of the Board Diana Nichols.

“It is the vision. It is the talent of our performing arts teachers, who have for so many years now motivated our students, so their needs became greater and greater. We owe to them their talent, their motivation and their ability to inspire students to move to greater heights,” Nichols said.

Guests were divided into two groups, who either went on a self-guided tour or watched a showing in the Patil Theater. Performances by Harker students and alumni included Michelle Holt’s ’11 rendition of “Regnava nel silenzio” from the opera “Lucia di Lammermoor” and John Ammatuna’s ‘11 interpretation of “Corner of the Sky” from the musical “Pippin.” The two groups switched activities after the first showing.

The building features a video screen, which is composed of three-inch LCD squares. Each square can be individually programmed to produce different effects and projections. The screen showed the names of every Harker alumni on the day of the opening. The pavement outside the building is lined with donor tiles, each of which has the names of major Harker donors engraved in them.

“The beautiful oak tree and the donor tiles mark the new entrance to the upper school between these wonderful two buildings,” Yager said. “These stones name various contributors, reflecting the utter generosity and the multitudes of support of the Harker community, who contributed to the completion of this project.”

Attendees were able to visit different rooms, including theater, dance, choir and orchestra spaces, and watch simulated class exercises.

“In my freshman and sophomore years, we were in the old orchestra room. I remember that when it rained, we used to put buckets down because [the ceiling] would literally leak. Then, we transitioned to the auxiliary gym, which had pretty bad acoustics. To now have this ‒ a soundproof practice room ‒ is just really rewarding and definitely something to treasure,” Anamika Kannan (12), principal french horn of the upper school orchestra, said.

Students and faculty began transitioning into holding classes in the new performing arts center on Monday of this week.