“Therefore play music!” announces Benedick in the final scene of Much Ado About Nothing. In Shakespeare’s day, he was probably yelling at one onstage lute player, but in the four centuries since, composers have taken that exclamation as a directive. Tonight the Last Stand Quartet, four young members of the National Symphony Orchestra with thespian streaks, will play Shakespeare-inspired music by nine of those composers, from 17th century Englishman Henry Purcell up through contemporary American Ned Rorem. In between, the musicians have recruited a few high-profile actors to read the Bard’s words: Rob Clare and Reiko Aylesworth, veterans of the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Va., and Andre Braugher, best known for his role on Homicide: Life on the Street. Don’t expect Det. Frank Pembleton to just read a few lines from Othello, though. The performance includes homages to all sorts of Shakespearean scenarios, from a 17th-century Midsummer fairy frolic to a 20th-century waltz inspired by A Winter’s Tale. The Last Stand Quartet performs with special guests Andre Braugher, Reiko Aylesworth, and Rob Clare at 7:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, 2700 F St. NW. $45. (202) 467-4600. kennedy-center.org.

More from WCP