Sanders Theatre in Cambridge, MA

Theater-Arts-300x200Inspired by Christopher Wren’s Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford, England, Sanders Theatre in Cambridge, MA, is well-known for its acoustics and its design. A member of the League of Historic American Theatres, this splendid 1,166 seat theatre offers an intimate and unique 180 degree design which provides unusual proximity to the stage. The theatre was originally designed as a lecture hall and as the site of college commencements.

Although Sanders saw its last commencement exercise in 1922, it continues to play a major role in the academic mission of Harvard College, hosting the annual Phi Beta Kappa induction ceremony undergraduate core curriculum courses and the prestigious Charles Eliot Norton Lecture. Many of the venerable academic, political and literary figures of the nineteenth and twentieth century have taken the podium at Sanders Theatre including Martin Luther King, Jr., Winston Churchill and Theodore Roosevelt.

Sanders Theatre in Cambridge, MA, is currently home to several undergraduate choir and orchestral groups and also serves as a venue for many professional performance ensembles such as Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, Boston Chamber Music Society, Christmas Revels, Masterworks Chorale and Boston Baroque.

The statue on the left side of the stage is of James Otis. He is depicted speaking in the old town house of Boston in February, 1761, against the British Writs of Assistance which empowered customs house officers to search any house for smuggled goods.

The statue on the right by William Wetmore Story is of Josiah Quincy. The stained glass window to the rear of the balcony is John La Farge’s last work for Memorial Hall, Athena Tying a Mourning Fillet.

For information on the history of musical events at Sanders Theatre, see Sanders Remembered, The Musical Tradition by Eliot Forbes ’40.

For information on the history of theatre events at Sanders Theatre, see Sanders Remembered, The Theatrical Tradition by William Morris Hunt II ’36.

Song and Dance in Darkness and Light

Our April Sanders concert (date TBA) promises thrills and chills unlike any heard at BCMS.

We open with the type of music that might have greeted us at the opening of an outdoor Renaissance Festival, not unlike the Boston Marathon.  Charles Wuorinen’s fun-filled jaunty variations on Renaissance dances are re-composed here for four modern instruments (cello, flute, clarinet and violin) and artfully disguised under a formidable German title as Bearbeitung über das Glogauer Liederbuch. (Don’t be fooled!)

Ravel’s Chansons madécasses, or Songs of Madagascar, are three he wrote for piano, Baritone, flute and cello, in response to a commission late in his career (1925) from Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge. They are set to poetry translated by Évariste de Parny (1753-1814). The scenes they paint and situations described might require each of us to secure parental permission to attend this performance!

Taken together, these should all be quite a show of darkness and light!


Sanders Theatre is not available for viewing by the public except during public performances. The Calendar of Events lists the special events scheduled for the upcoming season. Call Harvard Box Office at 617-496-2222 for more information.

Address: Memorial Hall, Harvard University
45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA


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