An acoustics expert has been appointed to help create a new Oxford concert hall to rival the best in the world.

The 500-seat concert hall will be part of Oxford University’s Stephen A Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities, at the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter site, off Woodstock Road.

The centre has been made possible by a £150m gift from Mr Schwarzman, chairman, CEO and co-founder of the investment firm Blackstone.

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Oxford Mail:

Steven Schwarzman

The appointed acoustician is Ian Knowles, of the global engineering and consultancy firm Arup.

Prof Karen O’Brien, head of humanities at Oxford University, said: “Building a new, world-class concert hall in Oxford is a statement of our confidence in the value of the arts and humanities despite this time of great uncertainty.

“This appointment will ensure that the Schwarzman Centre attracts the world’s very best musicians, artists and performers.

"The quality of the acoustics will benefit student performers and local cultural organisations who will use these venues, and the wider public who will attend performances.”

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Mr Knowles has previously been responsible for the outstanding acoustics at venues including Milton Court at the Barbican for the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, the Stoller Hall for Chethams School of Music and Hallé St Peter’s in Manchester. He also specialises in broadcast and orchestral recording facilities, having led projects for the BBC and Sky.

The new hall could be used by famous musicians like cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who received an honorary degree at last year's Encaenia ceremony.

Oxford Mail:

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma

Mr Knowles and the acoustics team at Arup will help to develop the centre’s 500-seat concert hall and 100-seat “Black Box” lab for experimental performance. These venues, along with a 250-seat performance venue, will host performances from world-renowned musicians and performing artists, national and international touring groups, Oxford University student and faculty groups, regional and national arts ensembles as well as local schoolchildren.

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The space will also be used for drama and dance performances.

Mr Knowles, Director of Acoustics UK at Arup, said: “Our team at Arup is absolutely delighted to have been selected for this incredible project.

“It is a privilege and honour to be part of shaping the cultural life of such an historic and culturally important city.”