The Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center opened in September 1989, which means that the home of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra turned 30 this year. To celebrate, we’re letting you in on a few secrets and fun facts about this spectacular place.
The Meyerson is the only concert hall I.M. Pei ever designed.
World-renowned architect I.M. Pei designed dozens of structures during his 60-year career, including the Louvre's pyramid, Dallas City Hall and the Kennedy Presidential Library, but the Meyerson is the only concert hall among them.
It’s considered one of the world’s best concert halls.
Seriously. We’re not just saying that. It took nine years and $106 million to build, but there is not a bad seat in the house. Business Insider recently named it one of the top 10 in the world. IN. THE. WORLD. The construction of concert halls is a painstaking process that requires architectural design and acoustic science to converge perfectly. Acoustician Russell Johnson consulted and advised creating a modified “shoebox” shape, similar to the design of European concert halls, namely the Vienna Musikverein, which is generally considered the finest concert hall in the world.
There’s a huge reverberation chamber around the top of the hall that audiences can’t see.
The addition helps create the rich, lively sound for which the Meyerson is known. The sound goes through the reverb chamber before making its way back into the hall and to your ears. Audio engineers are also able to open or close doors to “tune” the hall.
The canopy over the stage can also be adjusted to modify the sound.
You may have noticed the giant spaceship-looking thing suspended over the stage. The massive, four-part canopy can be raised or lowered, depending on the size of the ensemble onstage.
The wood inside the hall was hand-picked by I.M. Pei.
Pei flew to Africa, saw two Makore trees, said “those look nice” and had them brought to Dallas. (This was the '80s, and people didn’t care as much about the detrimental consequences of deforestation.)
We have American Airlines to thank for the marble in the lobby.
The marble is from a specific quarry in Italy and was extracted in time and ready to go, but the team of people working on the building’s construction ran into a transportation snag. A ship would take too long and would force the theater to push back its grand opening, so Morton Meyerson, the building’s namesake, worked with Robert Crandall (CEO of American Airlines) to get the marble imported in smaller batches via American Airlines planes.
Several pieces of fine art call the Meyerson home.
First and foremost are the iconic Kelly panels in the lobby. The four giant panels were commissioned by Ellsworth Kelly especially for the Meyerson. Kelly was known for his use of bright colors and simple shapes, but "Dallas Panels" in the Meyerson is the largest work he ever created. He has famously said, “I have worked to free shape from its ground, and then to work the shape so that it has a definite relationship to the space around it.” The panels are simple, yet perfectly complement “the space around” them. The green room isn’t always open to the public, but if you get the chance to go back there, you’ll be greeted by a colorful painting by the iconic Andy Warhol. “George Gershwin” was brought to the Meyerson in 1989 as a gift from Dallas journalist and writer Laurel Ornish. Outside the Meyerson near Betty Marcus Park, is a piece by Spanish sculptor Eduardo Chillada. The piece, called "De Musica," consists of 68 tons of forged steel constructed in two 15-foot columns. "De Musica" was the first piece of art commissioned for the Meyerson at the special request of I.M. Pei himself.
Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has been there.
No, really. Here’s a photo to prove it. She came to the Meyerson in 1991 during a tour of Texas.
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Also, Gary Busey got married there in 1996.
The zany Oscar-nominated actor and his wife divorced in 2001 but, hey, still a cool story.
Several U.S. presidents have also graced the halls with their presence.
Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush visited the Meyerson to speak at the memorial service for the five Dallas police officers who were killed in the line of duty on July 7, 2016. George and Laura Bush were also patrons of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and attended several concerts when they lived in Dallas.