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Klingenstein Concert Hall

A landmark gift of $3 million to the arts at Emma Willard will name the concert and community gathering hall within the Alice Dodge Wallace ’38 Center for the Performing Arts.

Emma Willard School has received an inspirational investment of $3 million from Sally Klingenstein Martell ’85 toward a state-of-the-art concert hall and community space, which will be named in her honor. The Klingenstein Concert Hall will be the centerpiece of the new Wallace Center for the Performing Arts and fulfill a key priority in Emma Willard's plan to advance the arts through the school's strategic plan and comprehensive campaign.

The new concert hall will feature seating for 450 people, a convertible stage platform for three different types of performances and gatherings, all-new audiovisual technology, and more. The space is currently under construction and anticipated to open in early 2024.

rendering of concert hall at emma willard

The Klingenstein Concert Hall will feature a modular, multi-use stage and seating for 450 people—the first location at Emma Willard to accommodate the entire campus community at once!


The arts have long been a fixture of the Emma Willard experience and with time have become interwoven with the traditions shared across generations of alumnae. Reflecting on her own time at Emma, Sally credits the arts with playing a transformational role in her education and as the ultimate inspiration for her gift.

"I took this amazing class called ‘Arts in the Renaissance’ and I remember Russell Locke taught the music portion, exposing us to all of this incredible music from that era. And there was an art history component and also literature. So this showed me how you could take a deep dive into an academic subject through the lens of the arts, and that was just transformative for me."
Sally went on to become an art history major at Tulane, working in art galleries during her early career, and later completed a master of fine arts before taking up the writing of her first novel. Her hope is that future generations of Emma students will take away the same inspiration and pursuit of the arts, just as she did.

"I believe that students will certainly recognize that this is a real investment in them—it only elevates one's performance to be in a space like this," says Sally. "In creating this space, we are saying to students, 'We believe you're worthy of this,' and that the arts should be a major focus of their educational experience."

A current member of the Board of Trustees, Sally and members of her family have served Emma Willard with distinction for years, including her father, John Klingenstein, who was a trustee from 1983 to 1993 and an honorary trustee until his passing in 2018. Sally's mother, Patricia Davis-Klingenstein, was also an ardent supporter of the school until her passing earlier this year. The entire Klingenstein family is well-known for their longstanding commitment and investment in education, including the Klingenstein Center at the Teachers College of Columbia University.

"It's not so much what inspired me but who inspired me: my father was deeply devoted to the power of education and set a philanthropic example for our entire family," expresses Sally. "I am so proud and humbled that our family's name will have a place here on Mount Ida for generations to come."

This piece was written for the Spring 2023 issue of Signature Magazine.