The East Room of the White House was turned into a chamber ringing with classical music from celebrities such as violinist Joshua Bell on Wednesday as part of the fourth installment in First Lady Michelle Obama’s ongoing performance series.


President Barack Obama welcomed the hushed crowd, which included a handful of high school musicians and members of Congress, by telling those unsure of when to applaud during classical performances they were not alone.

Former President John F. Kennedy had the same problem, he said, until he enlisted his social secretary to discreetly signal him to clap.

“Fortunately, I have Michelle to tell me when to applaud,” he kidded. “The rest of you are on your own.”

The performance, which also featured Sharon Isbin teasing the themes of “Asturias” by Isaac Albeniz from her classical guitar and pianist Awadagin Pratt sneaking the melody of Hail to the Chief at the end of a piece, capped a day of master classes and workshops hosted by the First Lady for more than 100 student musicians at the White House.