Tales of Kings and Queens

Sunday, March 8, 2020 at 4 PM

Kresge Auditorium, MIT

Featuring Cynthia Woods, Music Director

Academic Festival Overture

Three Black Kings


Johannes Brahms

Duke Ellington

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Join the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra for a night of noble leaders and far-off adventures, from tales of ancient biblical kings to the most prominent American civil rights leader of the twentieth century.

Duke Ellington‘s symphonic work Three Black Kings (1974) brings together kings of old and recent history, telling the stories of Balthazar (black king of the Magi), King Solomon, and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Composing this magnificent work at the end of his life, Ellington eulogizes Dr. King by placing him in a historical line of black royalty, in a rich symphonic tapestry that weaves jazz, gospel, and classical influences together, the past and the present uniting.

Nearly a century before, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov composed a sweeping romantic tone poem for the story of Scheherazade (1888), who saved her own life from the hands of a sultan by enthralling him with stories for 1,001 nights and winning his heart. Rimsky-Korsakov’s flashy orchestrations and lush melodies evoke princes, princesses, and ships wrecked at sea, with a tender solo violin woven throughout that gives voice to Scheherazade herself.

The concert also features Johannes Brahms‘ exuberant Academic Festival Overture (1880).



The Cambridge Symphony Orchestra thanks the Massachusetts Cultural Council for supporting our 2019-20 season.
Card to Culture
As part of the EBT Card to Culture Program, the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra offers discounted admission to this concert for Massachusetts EBT cardholders: $5 general admission for adults, and free admission for kids 16 and under with the purchase of at least one $5 adult ticket.
This discount program is offered in collaboration with the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services’ Department of Transitional Assistance.