Opened in September 1989 at 2301 Flora Street, the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center is owned and managed by the city of Dallas, Office of Cultural Affairs, and is home to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra along with the Turtle Creek Chorale, Dallas Wind Symphony, and the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra. Along with its symphony performances, the Meyerson has hosted benefit concerts and band and choral festivals as well as religious services and corporate meetings. The center has attracted renowned performers, such as Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, David Sanborn, and Ray Charles, and held the First Triennial Dallas International Organ Competition Finals in 1997.
The center is named for Morton H. Meyerson, former chairman of the Dallas Association’s Concert Hall Committee and former president of H. Ross Perot’s Electronic Data Systems. The Concert Hall Committee oversaw the building of the center which began in 1985 and ultimately cost $108 million. Ross Perot donated $10 million to the building on the condition it be named after Meyerson.
The Meyerson was intended to duplicate Vienna’s Musikvereinsaal and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, two of the best orchestral halls in the world. Prior to the center’s opening, Dallas’s other venue, located near downtown, was the Fair Park Music Center which had faulty acoustics. Designed by architect I. M. Pei, the 2,062 seat Eugene McDermott Concert Hall is shaped like a shoebox to reflect and disperse sound and has a gross area of 260,000 square feet. Acoustical designs by Russell Johnson of Artec Consultants provide a four section, 42-ton canopy that can be raised or lowered as needed. Instead of placing a wooden wall to amplify brass and percussion instruments, Johnson placed a wall made of square panels covered with loudspeaker cloth to disguise hidden air chambers which may be opened or closed. The hall also contains hidden chambers adding 300,000 cubic feet of space for reverberation, as well as five tiers behind the orchestra to be used for non-choral events. A masterpiece of the hall is the Herman W. and Amelia H. Lay Family Concert Organ. Completed in 1992, the massive mechanical-action organ has 4,535 pipes. Four private suites are also provided for meetings, recitals, and banquets. The center includes guest artist suites, dressing rooms, a restaurant, and a sculpture garden. The warm interior of wood and onyx is contrasted with the walls-and-boxes design of the building’s glass and limestone exterior, making the center a striking landmark in the sixty-acre Dallas Arts District.
Each year 325 or more concert events, 20 to 30 banquets, 200 photo and film shoots, and more than 800 hours of recording activity take place at the Meyerson. The building is open for group tours.