Last Wednesday, the White House welcomed 120 middle and high school music students from all over the country to participate in four different engaging workshops. From the Blue Room to the Map Room and the East Room to the Diplomatic Reception Room, beautiful music and instructors' guiding voices echoed through the halls of this historic home. Aspiring students plucked their bows and strummed the strings of their guitars, while picking up tips and queues from their instructors, renowned classical musicians Awadagin Pratt on the piano, Joshua Bell on violin, Sharon Isbin with classical guitar, and Alisa Weilerstein on cello.
In her session, Ms. Weilerstein posed a question to her students. "How do we get someone excited about classical music?" she asked. Bright young minds quickly offered up a number of ideas. "Use classical instruments to play modern pieces," said one young lady. "Play Classical music for people who've never heard it," said another. As the students listened to each other’s ideas, they also talked about the opportunities they had to discover magic through music; they discussed the importance of keeping music education in schools and communities, where all children would have an opportunity to discover these great art forms just like they did.
As the workshops concluded, everyone gathered in the historic East Room for a concert put on by their four instructors. First Lady Michelle Obama made a special visit, and told the students that through music, "You'll learn that if you believe in yourself and put in your best effort, that there's nothing you can't achieve; and those aren't just lessons about music, these are really lessons about life."
It was a privilege to welcome so many young musicians living such talented and full lives on a beautiful fall day at the people's house. The White House is honored to share these experiences with all students. Check out all the video:
Classical guitarist Sharon Isbin performs Isaac Albeniz's Asturias and Agustin Barrios Mangoré's Waltz Op. 8, No. 4:
Concert pianist Awadagin Pratt performs J.S. Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582:
Cellist Alisa Weilerstein performs Zoltán Kodály’s Sonata for Solo Cello, Op. 8 and III. Allegro molto vivace:
Cellists Alisa Weilerstein and 8 year-old Sujari Britt perform Luigi Boccherini's Sonata for Two Cellos in C Major, 1st movement: Allegro moderato:
Cellist Alisa Weilerstein and 16 year-old percussionist Jason Yoder perform Camille Saint Saëns' The Swan:
Joshua Bell and Awadagin Pratt perform Maurice Ravel's Tzigane:
Joshua Bell and Sharon Isbin perform Niccolò Paganini's Cantabile:
Joshua Bell, Awadagin Pratt, and Alisa Weilerstein Perform Felix Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 49 and the finale, Allegro assai appassionato:
Kalpen Modi and James Schuelke are with the Office of Public Engagement