Main Content

Called "In Performance from the White House," the PBS programs from the White House during the two administrations of Ronald Reagan broadened to include not only classical styles as seen under the Carters, but Broadway, country, jazz and gospel, always with creative theatrical flair. One of the Reagans’ most successful televised series, "A Tribute to American Music," took place from fall 1986 to summer 1988 on the White House lawn. The series featured the music of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Rodgers and Hart with the final evening showcasing scenes from various current Broadway musicals in festive costumes and dance. Other outdoor concerts celebrated distinguished American symphony orchestras, such as the Boston Pops Orchestra and New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra. Whether to enliven parties for children, holiday fetes, or Congressional picnics, music was vital to the Reagan White House. Not only the nostalgic Beach Boys performed their spirited rock music on the South Lawn, but artists, such as Pinchas Zuckerman (1982), Frank Sinatra (1982), Jessye Norman (1986), Lionel Hampton (1987), and many others continued the long tradition of after-dinner concerts held in the East Room to honor important heads of state.

Landmark Era Performance - 1988: President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan joined composer Marvin Hamlisch, an alumni cast of A Chorus Line, entertainers Shirley Jones, Stubby Kaye, Lee Roy Reams, and the Marine Band at the taping of "In Performance at the White House," August 10, 1988.

Footnotes & Resources

Elise Kirk, Musical Highlights from the White House, 160-164.

You Might Also Like