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July 8, 2002

Concert hall to be named for Emerson

By Sally Corbett

The state-of-the-art concert hall under construction in the Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for Performing Arts has received more than $1 million in support from longtime Emory benefactor Cherry Logan Emerson. Because of this generous contribution, the largest performance space in the soon-to-be-complete Schwartz Center will bear Emerson’s name.

A strong supporter of the arts and humanities, Emerson’s (’38C, ’39G) passion for music at Emory has been expressed in many ways, ranging from active concert-going to the funding of a music professorship. Emerson is a longstanding member of Emory’s Friends of Music and he recently endowed the Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta’s annual Emerson Series as well as the Mary L. Emerson Chair of Piano Studies. Cherry Logan Emerson Concert Hall will open to the public Feb. 1, 2003 during the building’s dedication ceremony, which also marks the start of the four-month-long Schwartz Center Opening Festival.

“For the arts at Emory this gift by Cherry is like an unforgettable encore following a masterful performance,” said Senior Associate Dean Rosemary Magee, executive director of Emory’s arts center project and arts steering committee. We are so appreciative of his enthusiasm and generosity. It is especially fitting to name this hall after him, since we know he and his wife Mary will attend our concerts every chance they get.”

Emerson, whose interest in the arts dates to his childhood, is a third-generation scientist credited with numerous patents and products developed principally by Emerson and Cumming, the chemical engineering firm he co-founded and operated for 35 years.

Emerson’s generosity toward Emory does not stop with the arts. He has also supported a science professorship, science lecture series and the establishment of a scientific computational center here. The university golf team has also benefited from his generosity. A year ago, Emory honored Emerson by naming its new science building after him.

“Cherry’s commitment to his two lifelong passions, art and science, is a model for Emory students. Our most popular double major happens to be chemistry and music,” Magee said.

Emerson Concert Hall, the largest performance space in the Schwartz Center, will be home to more than a dozen Department of Music ensembles for students and three resident professional ensembles. It also will be the primary venue for Emory’s major annual music series, including the Candler Classical Series, Journeys (non-Western music), SoundScapes (contemporary music), Jazz Fest (three-day festival each February), and Faculty Recital.

The hall’s design and its acoustical elements are intended to make performance sound quality as perfect as possible. Its stage can seat a 100-member symphony and its choral balcony can expand with risers for a 190-member chorus. Its classic, shoebox design has proven most effective for instrumental as well as choral music. The 64-by-146-foot hall stands 60 feet tall and has seating for up to 825 guests.

The shape of the multifaceted stucco and concrete wall and ceiling panels, based on contemporary acoustic theory, forces correct absorption and deflection of sound waves. The walls range from 12 inches to more than 36 inches thick in order to meet acoustic needs. Fifty-six concrete panels make up the 1.3 million-pound ceiling.

Hanging banners and “toasters,” which are the fixed panels protruding from the grooves in the ceiling, can be adjusted to provide appropriate acoustics for any level or type of performance. The touch of a button enables the movement of the banners and toasters thereby altering the acoustics depending on the concert.

The hall’s construction materials have undergone a variety of tests and reviews. Double-paned glass windows, multiple layers of plaster on most walls, an underground ventilation system and air ducts lined with special insulation will buffer environmental sounds. Unlike many halls, the base of the ceiling in Emerson Concert Hall is lined with 30 windows, which makes for a bright and appealing space for academic activities in daytime such as lectures and rehearsals. The selection of the hall’s chairs, down to the fabric and wood used, was determined by the materials’ ability to provide the correct sound quality no matter what the audience size.

To preview the concert hall interior, visiting the Schwartz Center website at