, Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley



No work is as lush as Rimsky-Korsakov's masterpiece Scheherazade, as Berkeley Symphony weaves and performs three tales of its own based upon strong women. Scheherazade's 1,001 tales changed her life and the lives of all those around her and Rimsky-Korsakov's vivid and imaginative orchestration is a perfect pairing with Carlos Simon's Portrait of a Queen which, through spoken word and music, tells the history of Black America from the vantage point of a strong Black female narrator. We are also thrilled to present the world premiere of a new work entitled Lotus Prayer by Chinese-born composer Xi Wang. An evocative evening of colorful and powerful works elevating the musical portraits of trailblazing women.

The program will be interpreted into ASL for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. If you would like to learn more about the accessibility of this concert, please reach out to [email protected].

Joseph Young, Music Director

Lotus Prayer
World Premiere made possible through the League of American Orchestras’ Women Composers Commissions generously supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation

Portrait of a Queen
Narrated by Leontyne Mbele-Mbong


*programming subject to change* 

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Please Join Us for a Pre-Concert Panel

The Enduring Stories pre-concert talk will be hosted by Caen Thomason-Redus, Vice President of Inclusion and Learning at the League of American Orchestras. Caen leads the discussion with composers Xi Wang and Carlos Simon on this program with an in-depth look at their works including the world premiere of Xi Wang’s Lotus Prayer which is made possible through the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation Orchestral Commissions Program for women composers and is an initiative of the League of American Orchestras.

Caen Thomason-Redus, pre-concert talk host

-Vice President of Learning and Inclusion at the League of American Orchestras

Xi Wang, composer

Carlos Simon, composer

About the Artists

Leontyne Mbele-Mbong, narrator

Leontyne Mbele-Mbong was last seen with Berkeley Symphony at CalShakes. She is about to appear in Hurricane Diane at the Aurora where she has also appeared in Cyrano, Bull in a China Shop, Temple and Breakfast with Mugabe. Recent shows: Fefu and her Friends at A.C.T., Lear at CalShakes. Other favorites: title role in Medea (TBA Award),and Cleopatra in Antony & Cleopatra (TBA Award Finalist) with African-American Shakespeare Company; The Half-Life of Marie Curie (TheatreSquared, Fayetteville,AK); Watch on the Rhine (Berkeley Rep/Guthrie Theatre), Top Girls, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Fences; Andromache, Candide, Richard III (3 times), Twelfth Night, and Intimate Apparel (Mayme; ARTY Award, best supporting actress).


Posted on

June 4, 2023