UMBC: Sound Thinking

Published: Jul 29, 2015

Sound Thinking

The Earl and Darielle Linehan Concert Hall strikes the right note for the arts at UMBC

On April 21, the campus celebrated the naming of one its most distinctive spaces, the 375 seat concert hall in the new Performing Arts and Humanities Building. Now known as the Earl and Darielle Linehan Concert Hall through a generous gift by Earl and Darielle Linehan, the hall stands as one of the premiere performing arts venues in the greater Baltimore region.

Members of the Linehan family were joined by President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, the Linehan Artist Scholars, and campus faculty, students, and staff for the unveiling of the lettering that now prominently runs across the Linehan Concert Hall entrance.

“When I first walked into the hall, I was immediately struck by its visual beauty, but what was truly extraordinary was its weighty and sensual silence,” said Linda Dusman, incoming chair of the Department of Music, as she described the Linehan Concert Hall. “It’s absolutely magical, and I feel as though I am inside a beautifully tuned and crafted instrument—a Stradivarius.”

The spectacular design of the Linehan Concert Hall (and the entire Performing Arts and Humanities Building) was created by design architects William Rawn Associates, architects of record Grimm + Parker, acousticians Kirkegaard Associates, and Theatre Project Consultants—the same team that developed the acclaimed Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda and Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood. Planning for the building began in 2004, and construction was completed in 2014 at a total cost ofapproximately $160 million.

With seating for approximately 375 patrons, the Linehan Concert Hall provides an intimate experience that still allows ample room for large ensembles. The stage can accommodate a full symphony orchestra with chorus as easily as a soloist or string quartet. Materials employed to create the hall’s excellent acoustical properties—maple woodwork, birch floors and plaster walls—are supplemented by adjustable acoustic panels in the ceiling and acoustic curtains that can be lowered to adjust the sonic environment. To help ensure complete silence during performances, cool or warm air is delivered through vents under each seat from a large open chamber, or plenum, underneath the hall. A state-of-the-art recording studio overlooks the hall from the back of the house, and serves as a teaching classroom for students studying recording technology.

Even more important than the Linehan Concert Hall’s physical beauty is the life of the space. Each year, UMBC’s Department of Music presents more than 100 concerts in the hall, including internationally renowned soloists and chamber ensembles, the annual Livewire new music festival, emerging artists, faculty ensembles and soloists, and student ensembles and soloists. Additionally, the hall is home to distinguished lectures and other special events. During the 2015-16 season, music performances featured the Ensemble Laboratorium from Switzerland, the European Trio des Alpes, Swedish tuba soloist Øystein Baadsvik, Glee pianist Brad Ellis, jazz bassist Ben Allison, and many additional concerts by UMBC faculty and students. During the day, the hall serves as a teaching space for music students and faculty.

“The Linehan Concert Hall takes us to a new level of teaching and performance opportunities, where students and faculty alike can teach, learn, and work collaboratively in a state-of-the-art environment” said Scott E. Casper, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, “As one of Baltimore’s premiere performance locations and key destination points for cultural events, the Earl and Darielle Linehan Concert Hall promises to become a venue that can be enjoyed by the many outstanding music organizations, performing artists and arts patrons in the region.” One of the first outside organizations to be featured in the Linehan Concert Hall will be the Shiver Hall Concert Series, which will present a concert by the Chiara String Quartet in April, 2016.

The Performing Arts and Humanities Building and the Linehan Concert Hall have received accolades from the media and professional associations. “The just-completed Performing Arts and Humanities Building atop the campus … makes quite a statement from almost every angle, [including] the sun-reflecting, stainless-steel wrapped Concert Hall,” proclaimed Tim Smith of The Baltimore Sun. “The interior of the Concert Hall, with its warm wood tone, seats surrounding the stage and air conditioning vents underneath the seating, is visually reminiscent of Strathmore. The Concert Hall achieves considerable aesthetic appeal from such features as the rear windows that allow for natural lighting and the thin metal mesh curtains along the curving walls.” The PAHB received a 2014 Wavemaker Award from the Urban Land Institute and was nominated for an Excellence in Design Award from the American Institute of Architects-Baltimore, which held its 2014 awards gala in the Linehan Concert Hall.

Longtime residents of greater Baltimore, Earl and Darielle have a distinguished history of involvement with UMBC. The Linehan Artist Scholars Program, launched with a generous gift in September 1997, was created through a vision that emerged from the Linehans’ deeply held belief in the importance of the arts in society. Their commitment to UMBC and our student community has created a transformative learning experience for hundreds of talented undergraduates majoring in the visual and performing arts who also have a strong record of academic achievement.

Earl Linehan chaired UMBC’s Board of Visitors from 1993 to 2005, was chair of the university’s first capital campaign, and served on the Exceptional by Example Campaign Committee, which surpassed its goal upon completion in 2011. He is President of Woodbrook Capital, Inc. and serves on numerous corporate, civic, and non-profit boards. In addition to her numerous civic commitments, Darielle Linehan turned her life-long love of books and learning into a vocation, founding the highly acclaimed Ivy Bookshop in North Baltimore. She has worked with the university to create the Salons at UMBC, a series of intimate social evenings designed to explore issues in the arts and humanities, which both she and Earl have co-hosted.

Upcoming events in the Earl and Darielle Linehan Concert Hall are posted on UMBC’s Arts and Culture Calendar at


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