OTTAWA - A year after Prime Minister Stephen Harper dismissed galas as the playground of elites, he decided to ham it up a bit at a glittering high society event in Ottawa Saturday.

Harper took to the stage, sat down at a grand piano and sang the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends."

He was performing one of the most elite of audiences: the black-tie gala at the National Arts Centre traditionally attracts the most powerful people in Ottawa society and movers and shakers in Canadian culture.

Harper, a Beatles fan, was accompanied by renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma.

The prime minister managed to hold a tune and drew a standing ovation from an audience that was in a playful mood.

The gala raises money for youth and the arts.

Harper's dismissive attitude toward culture and the arts was blamed for his party's poor showing in Quebec in the 2008 election.

Harper's wife, Laureen, is chairwoman of the NAC gala.