The American Pops Orchestra (APO) was founded in 2015 by Maestro Luke Frazier with the aim of breathing new life into orchestral pops programming and inspiring new audiences to discover the wealth of material in the Great American Songbook in dynamic ways.
The American Pops Orchestra (APO) has been hailed by DC Metro Theatre Arts as an “innovative group of artists [that] are reinvigorating the tunes you know and love with a contemporary flair that never fails to please.” APO is dedicated to the vast, rich repertoire of American music and to creating fresh, entertaining programming. These modern takes on classic music define what makes APO fun, fresh and funky. DC Metro Theatre Arts continues “With the Pops continually raising the bar with its programming, it is guaranteed that we will continue to be astounded.”
Since its inception in 2015, The American Pops has made its mark in the orchestral world, performing at world-class venues such as Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, New York City’s Town Hall, the Smithsonian, the Anthem and many more. APO’s fourth season is bringing critically acclaimed musicianship and a focus on diversity (in both music and casting) that is sure to dazzle its sophisticated audience of first-time orchestra attendees and long-time pops music lovers alike.
The American Pops Orchestra is comprised of the most excellent players in the Washington, DC area and even boasts a few players from New York City. They feel equally at home playing everything from Gershwin’s sweeping melodies to 80’s disco music accompanied by a live DJ. According to The New York Times in reference to their NYC debut, “what warmed the evening was the sumptuous lilt of the American Pops Orchestra, conducted by Luke Frazier.”
Aside from APO’s musical excellence, APO is an orchestra who cares. It is the firm belief of founder, Luke Frazier, that music is a right for anyone who wants to hear it. Frazier has led the organization to provide free, monthly community concerts and offer free tickets to military veterans and their families, at-risk children and youth, underserved families and many others. Earlier this season, APO went on its first ever children’s tour, taking a fully-staged children’s musical to over 3,000 kids in West Virginia public schools free of charge. Additionally, APO is gearing up for the second annual NextGen: Finding the Voices of Tomorrow, a vocal competition for college-aged students, which awards cash and professional performance experiences to up and coming talent. These programs feed Frazier’s vision to reinvigorate the Great American Songbook by bringing this iconic music to all members of the community.
The American Pops Orchestra has garnered quite a list of incredible artists with whom they have shared the stage. That list includes Christine Ebersole, Luis Fonsi, Liz Callaway, Arturo Sandoval, Andra Day, Tommy Tune, Elaine Paige, Gaby Moreno, Michelle Williams, Paulo Szot, Betty Who, Jared Grimes, Marilyn Maye, Fran Drescher, Norm Lewis, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Laura Osnes, Lindsay Mendez, Ron Raines, Moya Angela, Claybourne Elder, Amber Iman, Ali Ewoldt, Bria Skonberg, Olympian Greg Louganis and so many more.
APO has established itself as the go-to orchestra for high-profile performances- which include (but are not limited to) the Hispanic Heritage Awards, nationally broadcast on PBS; The Atlantic Council’s Distinguished Leadership Awards; Kennedy Center Honors Chairman’s Luncheon; theatreWashington’s Helen Hayes Awards; The Giving Pledge at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History; the Beacon Prize, given by Human Rights First to honor commitment to the American ideals of freedom and human dignity; and the DC Standing Ovation Awards, celebrating excellence in the DC Public Schools.
LUKE FRAZIER is changing what it means to be the maestro of a cutting edge orchestra. He is an innately musical conductor, a sensitive and brilliant pianist and a visionary for presenting music we know and love with a fun, energetic and unique twist. Washingtonian Magazine named him one of their “Top 40 Under 40,” (way under 40, he might add) and it doesn’t stop there. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and musical theatre legend, Marvin Hamlisch, put it best, calling Frazier “so talented, and sensitive to every nuance.”
As founder and Music Director of The American Pops Orchestra (APO), Frazier has set the bar high for popular orchestral programming. His past seasons have brought Broadway, television and even Olympic stars to the stage alongside APO to dazzle his new-found audience of young, first-time attendees and long-time orchestra patrons alike. Each show is built from the ground up with original arrangements and innovative staging, all brought to life by a cast of stars, acclaimed and upcoming, to deliver what every audience wants to experience- a night they won’t forget!
Frazier doesn’t spend all his time conducting The American Pops. He has earned his stripes conducting across the country and abroad. He has conducted at internationally acclaimed venues including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, The White House, The Kennedy Center and so many more. He is an avid proponent of the preservation and celebration of the American Songbook, as evidenced by his orchestral programming, his iTunes playlist, and his involvement on the Board of the Great American Songbook Foundation.
Frazier is thrilled to have worked with an arsenal of incredible artists, most of whom he calls friend. This list includes such luminaries as Chita Rivera, Patti LaBelle, Lea Delaria, Tommy Tune, Renée Fleming, Andra Day, Darren Criss, Vanessa Williams, Liz Callaway, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Lea Salonga, Betty Who, Laura Osnes, Wynton Marsalis, Eric Owens, Marilyn Maye, Liza Minnelli, Rita Moreno, Lindsay Mendez, Michael Feinstein, Christine Ebersole, Elaine Paige, Arturo Sandoval, and Norm Lewis, among many others.
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In addition to regular season programming, APO performs in many special events throughout the year. Some of these events include:
2018 Hispanic Heritage Awards
12 September 2018 | John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2017 Hispanic Heritage Awards
14 September 2017 | Warner Theater
8th Annual DC Standing Ovation Awards
8 February 2018 | The Anthem
Smithsonian Giving Pledge Dinner
21 March 2018 | National Museum of American History
Atlantic Council “On Your Feet” Gala
10 May 2018 | The Ritz-Carleton