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Michelle Obama makes room for classical music at the White House

October 29, 2009 |  5:30 am


Classical music education will get some welcome attention next week when Michelle Obama opens the White House for a special concert.

Next Wednesday, the first lady will host a Classical Music Student Workshop Concert, which will feature an appearance by superstar violinist Joshua Bell, guitarist Sharon Isbin, cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Awadagin Pratt. The afternoon concert, which will be held in the East Room, is part of the White House's ongoing Music Series, which was created by the first lady to celebrate the arts and demonstrate the importance of arts education.

The White House said that the concert will include two young performers: cellist Sujari Britt and marimba player Jason Yoder, who will perform with Weilerstein. On the same day, the White House will hold music workshops for 120 middle and high school students from around the country. 

The Obamas' have previously hosted concerts of country music and jazz at the White House as part of the Music Series. Last month, the White House hosted a festival of Latin music titled Fiesta Latina.

While it is unclear if Michelle Obama plays a musical instrument, it has been reported that first daughters Sasha and Malia have taken piano lessons as well as dance classes.

And if the White House is open to suggestions for future concerts, Culture Monster would like to nominate Gustavo Dudamel and L.A.'s very own YOLA Expo Center Youth Orchestra. As their recent Hollywood Bowl concert demonstrated, the youngsters are a photogenic group that can send a strong message about the possibilities of music education.

-- David Ng

Photo: Michelle Obama. Credit: Alex Brandon / Associated Press

Related stories:

A night of awe for L.A.'s youth orchestra

Despite technical glitches, Obama's cultural evening is powerfully intimate

Comments () | Archives (5)

In a related story, Rush Limbaugh just removed the statue of Beethoven he installed in his house last year. (True story: according to the NY Times Magazine. Rush considered LvB as a person who attained great success after suffering from deafness late in life. Ok, not a successful as Rush himself,, but still..)

The students traveling to attend this White House event include eight representatives from Los Angeles - four violinists and four cellists that are beneficiaries of a wonderful program called Harmony Project, which is a local non-profit organization that for over eight years now has been providing free musical instruments and professional instruction, along with ensemble and orchestral participation, to children in under-served communities. For the last two years, this same organization has also been collaborating with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the YOLA project. However, the eight students traveling to Washington this coming week are young musicians from Harmony Project's own educational centers.

This is nice to see. I wrote a letter to President Obama's advisors just after he took office and stressed very firmly the idea of establishiong a 'Fireside Classical Concert Series'. Not sure if this was an impetus, but glad to see it will happen.

FWIW, I've seen photos of Malia totin' a flute case to school.

My sister from the Sphinx music program will be attending this event at the White House. Khristine Raymond will be playing the cello.


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