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Clinton conducts orchestra in `Stars and Stripes Forever'

President Clinton stepped to the podium Friday night at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall and led the National Symphony Orchestra in a spirited version of "The Stars and Stripes Forever."

It was the final encore of the orchestra's first public concert in the hall after a $14 million refurbishing job. Music director Leonard Slatkin introduced the president as "our new assistant conductor."Rhythmic clapping by an audience of 2,500 drowned out part of the music. When the march was over, Hillary Rodham Clinton came on stage with a big bouquet of pink roses for Slatkin. The president exited waving one of them at soprano Kathleen Battle, who had been singing Mozart and spirituals.

The orchestra just returned from a five-country tour of Europe.