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President and Mrs. George Bush recognized music as a supreme American gesture, a vital symbol of American life as it underscored every important national event, social cause and ceremonial mood in the White House. Today, the United States Marine Band, America’s oldest musical organization, numbers 140 musicians and plays at the White House more than 150 times a year. From early 1993 to late 1998 under the Clintons, nearly 100 musical events featuring guest artists appeared at the White House. President and Mrs. Clinton’s enjoyment of traditional and popular American music was reflected especially in their WETA "In Performance at the White House" series. Concert and opera stars, Irish music, rhythm and blues were a few more of the kaleidoscopic musical moods of the White House as the millennium rapidly approached.

Landmark Era Performances

1989-1992: President and Mrs. George Bush arranged for a variety of performers to appear in the East Room after state dinners, including singer Maureen McGovern and Harry Connick, Jr., cellist Mstislav Rostropovic, violinists Itzhak Perlman and Isaac Stern, and the Harlem Boys Choir.

1998: The WETA "In Performance at the White House" series included a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival; Aretha Franklin; "Women of Country"; and seventeen dancers illustrating varied styles of dance during the telecast of March 1998.

Barbara Bush and Betty Ford applaud the Boys choir of Harlem.

Carol Powers, The White House

Footnotes & Resources

Elise Kirk, Musical Highlights from the White House, 164-170.

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