imageOctober 10, 2013 -- In what was likely a high school assembly for the ages, Paul McCartney and his band yesterday performed songs from his forthcoming solo album “New” as well hits by the Beatles and Wings for some 400 students, teachers and guestsat the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens, New York. Among the attendees: Tony Bennett, the public school’s founder.

In the 90-minute program, McCartney played “Save Us” and “Everybody Out There” from “New,” out next week, and the material fit nicely alongside Beatles’s tunes “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and “Hey Jude” which, like Wings-era hits “Band on the Run” and “Jet,” proved familiar to students young enough to be McCartney’s grandchildren. They sang along, seemingly with unalloyed joy, as teachers danced nearby.

The event was held on the second anniversary of McCartney’s marriage to Nancy Shevell, who was in attendance; he and the four-piece backing band performed the new album’s title track, which she inspired. Also, the date marked what would’ve been John Lennon’s 73rd birthday, and McCartney played “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” a song sung and for the most part written by Lennon.

At points during the mini-concert, McCartney took questions from students, many of whom are exploring potential careers in the performing arts. Addressing them thoughtfully and by name, McCartney mused on developing craft, the challenges in maintaining a long career and how to confront and overcome obstacles. He reminisced about his experience 49 years ago when he, Lennon and fellow Beatles George Harrison and Ringo Starr landed in Queens to appear on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” To prospective composers, he said that he and Lennon “didn’t know how to write songs,” but “we got the hang of it.” The important thing, he added, was “we didn’t want to do the same thing twice.” He said he felt he’d made it as a musician the first time he heard “Love Me Do” on the radio, as he was driving to London from Liverpool more than a half-century ago.

Before launching into “Hey Jude,” he told the assembled students, in a cheer that echoed of wise counsel: “You rock! You be great!”