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Celebrating the Meyerson’s 25th Anniversary

By Cathy Hutchison

The Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center is celebrating its 25th anniversary this week.

No matter how world renowned or how special, all projects are the result of the decisions of the people who lead them.

Acoustician, Nicholas Edwards; musicologist, Laurie Shulman; and businessman and philanthropist, Morton H. Meyerson at the 25th Anniversary of the Meyerson Symphony Center.

One of the stories Laurie Shulman shares in her book, The Meyerson Symphony Center: Building a Dream is the decision of Morton H. Meyerson to hire the architect (in this case the famous I.M. Pei) and the acoustician separately so that the aesthetics and the acoustics would have equal weight.  The results were arguments that wound up in creative solutions resulting in a hall that is one of the best in the world for symphonic music.

The passion that drove that decision was Meyerson’s own history as a musician.  He grew up with a mother who listened to and played classical music. Meyerson himself is a chorister and often performs anonymously to sing bass with the Dallas Symphony Chorus. While Meyerson was originally selected to head this endeavor because of his talent in leading teams to do great things (as evidenced by his role as president of EDS at the time) it was his love of music that shaped the people who were selected and the process that drove the program.

Nicholas Edwards – who was part of Artec during these days and who was responsible for the core shaping and acoustic design of the room – joined Meyerson and Shulman yesterday to share just how the acoustic decisions about the Meyerson were made.  A scientific technical analysis of the halls that were rated the best acoustic spaces in the world coupled with research in psychoacoustics created a fresh approach to positioning the walls in a reverse fan shape that would result in the sound arriving at the ears in an optimum time, direction and level. Interestingly, Edwards arrived at this breakthrough design without computers while on vacation sitting poolside using a pencil, pushpins and a piece of string to measure path lengths of sound and to scribe radii to position where the walls should be.  (In later years, he would develop the IMAGES computer simulation program for predictive acoustics.)

It was a historic moment to sit in the hall with the people who played a role in its coming to be. Most of us Dallas natives simply enjoy the music and forget that it was once a construction site.

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