The lyrics from Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, a musical celebration of art and life, were the first words spoken from the stage of the Cherry Logan Emerson Concert Hall in Emory’s new Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. The piece formed the central theme for the original performance “Inter-Play,” a fusion of music, dramatic reading, and dance by Emory performers created expressly for the center’s opening night and dedication February 1.

Fittingly, the collaborative nature of “Inter-Play” made manifest the highest hopes of those who helped the center come to be: that the Schwartz Center would be a place where the arts at Emory find each other and blossom into new forms of creative expression.

The performance, directed by Vincent P. Murphy, artistic director of Theater Emory, surrounded the audience, allowing them to fully experience the celebrated Emerson Concert Hall. Dancers in white glided down the aisles; string musicians played softly in the balcony; piano notes drifted from the wings; at one point a flutist rose from the audience and began to play. The evening rose to a crescendo when the Emory Symphony Orchestra performed the stunning Choral Fantasy, bringing the crowd to its feet.

“It’s in the arts that we find hope,” said Donna Keesler Schwartz ’62C-’97P, whose gift of $8 million, made with her husband, provided the foundation for the Schwartz Center. “Here we find the purest, highest and most noble human expression. For people who come to inspire and to be inspired, to study, create, and perform, to see and hear, to learn and enjoy, and to be enriched within the great academic tradition of this university, this building will help reinforce not only the development of the mind, but of the creative heart, and the limitless expression of the human spirit.”

Schwartz was one of three Emory alumnae who played critical roles in seeing the Schwartz Center to completion. Rosemary M. Magee ’82G (standing), senior associate dean of Emory College, served as executive director of the Arts Project, and University Trustee Laura Hardman ’67C (seated) was chair of arts center fund raising .

“People have given their hearts to this enterprise,” Magee said. “Look around the hall and you will see the faces of so many of the people who made this dream come true—people just like you and me.”

The arts center is one of Emory’s fondest and longest-deferred dreams. “This is an auspicious moment,” said University President William M. Chace, addressing those gathered at a champagne reception in the newly christened William and JoAn Chace Upper Lobby on opening night. “As early as sometime in the 1920s, people were saying, ‘You know, it’s really time we had an arts center.’ This moment is the fruition of so much hope . . . so much planning . . . so much dreaming. . . . You can’t be a university in the most true sense until you really honor the arts. We are doing that now.”

The dedication and performance kicked off a festive opening week at the center, with performances or open rehearsals every night. Events included three evenings of “Emory Performs” with programs featuring various Emory artists; also featured the first week was a special concert by alumni musicians.

The week culminated with a concert by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, which played to a full house, earning rave reviews for Emerson Hall’s acoustics from critics including Lois Reitzes, music director for Atlanta’s WABE-FM.

“Emerson Hall is magnificent in its warmth,” Reitzes said. “The color and decor ideally complement the sound.”

• The Schwartz Center promises to bring the arts into the life of the University as never before. > > >



© 2003 Emory University