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The Meyerson Symphony Center

The home of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Meyerson Symphony Center is just as integral to the sound of the music as the musicians themselves.

Since 1989, the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center has become a landmark on the Dallas skyline and the international press has proclaimed the hall "world-class, rivaling the great concert halls of the world" and is part of the Dallas Arts District.

The Dallas Arts District is a unique, 68-acre, 19-block neighborhood in the heart of the city. A rare jewel that is the centerpiece of the region's cultural life, the District is home to some of the finest architecture in the world. The District is made up of museums, performing arts centers, restaurants, hotels, churches, and residences that are a center for world-class exhibits, exemplary cultural programming and much more. Learn more at www.thedallasartsdistrict.org.

The Meyerson Symphony Center is staffed and operated by the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs. To learn more about the OCA's mission, programs, public art and City of Dallas arts facilities and cultural centers, click here.

Seating Chart

View 2013-2014 Meyerson Symphony Center Seating Chart

Facts

Why does the music sound so good in the Meyerson, regardless of your seat? What did it take to build the Meyerson? Here are a few facts about the Meyerson Symphony Center.

The Structure

  • The centerpiece of the Meyerson is the McDermott Concert Hall, a European "shoebox" style music chamber, designed to establish intimacy between performer and audience.
  • McDermott Hall features reverberation space around the top of the hall concealed by 74 thick concrete doors weighing 2.5 tons each. These chamber doors can be opened and closed to increase or reduce reverberance.
  • In addition, 56 acoustical curtains within the concert hall and reverberation chamber help to diminish sound vibrations, depending on the use of the hall.
  • A system of canopies weighing more than 42 tons is suspended above the stage and can be raised, lowered or tilted to reflect the sound throughout the audience chamber. The canopies also assist the musicians to hear one another and accurately assess the nuances of their own playing.

The Creators

  • Architect I. M. Pei's work includes such facilities as the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, the East Wing of the National Gallery and the Glass Pyramid at the Louvre in Paris. His architectural contributions to Dallas' skyline include City Hall, One Dallas Centre and Fountain Place.
  • Acoustician Russell Johnson, of Artec Consultants, Inc. in New York, has designed acoustics for halls in North America, Europe and Asia for more than 40 years, using his pioneering system of adjustable acoustics. That approach reaches a peak in the Eugene McDermott Concert Hall and has become a benchmark for acoustical design of modern halls.

The Artwork

  • Located on the Northeast wall, "Dallas Panels (Blue Green Black Red)" by Ellsworth Kelly was commissioned for the Center by the Dallas Symphony's Art Acquisition Committee. It's the artist's largest painting and one of many panel works he has completed since 1949. Kelly decided to produce a work that expressed "clarity, optimism and joyful good spirits."
  • Outside, at the entrance to Betty B. Marcus Park, De Musica by Eduardo Chillida was commissioned for the Meyerson by Frank Ribelin, a prominent Dallas art collector. The piece consists of an estimated 68 tons of forged steel in two 15-foot columns with branches reaching toward each other without touching. The columns were forged in Reynosa, Spain. The Chillida sculpture was the first piece of art commissioned for the Center and was a special request by Pei.

The Herman W. and Amelia H. Lay Family Concert Organ

  • Rising the full height of the concert chamber, the Herman W. and Amelia H. Lay Family Concert Organ serves as the visual focal point. One of the largest mechanical action organs ever built for a concert hall, the instrument is Opus 100 of C. B. Fisk, Inc. of Gloucester, Massachusetts.
  • The organ, numbering 4,535 pipes, consists of 84 ranks with 65 stops, four manual keyboards of 61 notes each and a pedal keyboard of 32 notes. The pipes range in size from 3/4 inches tall and 3/16 inches in diameter to 32 feet tall and 18 inches in diameter. The casework is of quarter-sawn American cherry wood accented by brass decorative strips.
  • The construction and installation of the organ were made possible by a generous gift of the Lay Family.

Other Facts

The Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center has:

  • 260,000 square feet of above-ground space
  • 225,000 square feet of below-ground space
  • 35,130 cubic yards of concrete
  • 30,000 square feet of Italian travertine marble
  • 22,000 pieces of Indiana limestone
  • 2,062 seats
  • 918 square panels of African (Makore) cherry wood
  • 216 square panels of American cherry wood
  • 211 glass panels (no two alike) comprising the conoid windows
  • 85-foot-high ceiling in the concert hall
  • 50 restrooms
  • 26 video camera positions within the concert hall
  • 4 private suites for meetings, banquets and recitals
  • 2 audio and video broadcast/recording studios
  • On an annual basis, there are over 325 concert hall events, 20 to 30 banquets, 200 photo and film shoots and over 800 hours of rehearsal and recording activity

History

Now in its third decade of use, the Meyerson has developed a rich and storied history.

In November 1979, the citizens of Dallas voted to set aside 60 acres in downtown Dallas in which to concentrate the city's arts and cultural treasures, and an architectural master plan was developed for the Dallas Arts District.

The Dallas Museum of Art emerged at one end of the District. The Dallas Theater Center began operating the Arts District Theater and the Dallas Symphony Association began the site selection process for its future home in the heart of the city's new cultural Mecca.

In 1980, under the leadership of Dallas Symphony Association President Robert Decherd, Board of Governors member Morton H. Meyerson chaired a committee charged with development of a building program and selection of an architect and acoustician. Meyerson appointed Stanley Marcus chairman of the architect selection committee. In December of 1980, I. M. Pei was picked from more than 100 world-renowned architects and awarded the commission. At the same time, Dr. Eugene Bonelli, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University, was appointed chairman of the search committee for an acoustician. In early 1981, the committee selected Russell Johnson, founder of Artec Consultants, Inc., to serve as the hall's acoustician and major theatrical consultant.

Through the generosity of the Borden Company, several parcels of land were donated to the Dallas Symphony Association. The land, together with other city-owned parcels and the cooperative efforts of private development companies, made it possible for Pei's design to be established on a prime site bounded by Leonard, Flora and Pearl Streets and Woodall Rodgers Freeway.

Under the leadership of Henry S. Miller, Jr., the most comprehensive capital campaign ever undertaken by an American arts institution began. The Cornerstone Campaign ran from January 1983 through December 1985 and raised more than $50 million, much of which was dedicated toward construction of the Symphony Center. In late 1984, the Ross Perot family gave the Dallas Symphony Association $10 million to assure that the new hall would meet the international standards set forth by the architect and acoustician. In recognition of the gift, the Association gave Mr. Perot the opportunity to name the facility. He did so, honoring his friend, business colleague and chairman of the building committee, Morton H. Meyerson. An additional generous gift from the Eugene McDermott Foundation enabled the completion of the technically precise and architecturally compelling Eugene McDermott Concert Hall - the music chamber within the great hall.

Ground was broken in September of 1985 and in September of 1989, the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center opened its doors to international critical acclaim. It now stands as a tribute to a city that continues to set standards in musical excellence. The Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center rises proudly in the Dallas Arts District as the architectural and acoustical benchmark by which concert halls around the world are judged.

 

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