About APO

Meet The American Pops Orchestra

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.”

APO was founded in 2015 with a mission to breathe new life into orchestral pops programming, and inspire diverse audiences to discover the wealth of the material in the Great American Songbook in dynamic new ways. Seeing an opportunity to challenge the status-quo of the repertoire an orchestra performs, Founder and Music Director, Luke Frazier, created The American Pops with the intent of breaking the mold of the traditional pops orchestra. This new, distinctly “American” orchestra brings together versatile musicians and reimagined programming focused around the Great American Songbook, and presents it with an approachable, fresh spin in order to engage diverse audiences and make attending a live orchestral show fun again. Through non-traditional orchestral settings, APO aims to deliver popular American classics to those who already know and love them, while also introducing these timeless pieces to younger generations in approachable settings.  

Based in Washington, D.C., APO presents a myriad of performances in a variety of venues including the National Portrait Gallery, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Arena Stage at the Mead Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., as well as The Lincoln Center in New York City, and most recently entering a new virtual venue through online programming. Each show has a uniquely created theme with original arrangements of the American songbook that brings together the pops orchestra, Broadway singers and dancers, and other professional performers. Included in each APO season are newly imagined children’s stories, fitness and mindfulness yoga practices, the NextGen: Finding the Voices of Tomorrow Vocal Competition, and multiple mainstage productions. In addition to regular season programming, COVID-19 has presented APO with the opportunity to engage further with both local and national audiences through virtual content and the online production of their season events. Engaging with these audiences has allowed The American Pops to attract and maintain a national audience through dynamic and fresh programs that appeal to all audience types and ages.

The American Pops was formalized in 2015 after a successful, sold-out performance in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, “She Did It Her Way,” a salute to the legendary female singers of the Rat-Pack era. Since its conception, APO has presented productions filled with re-orchestrated classics with a fresh vibe and orchestration. The American Pops Orchestra has served as the house orchestra for the Hispanic Heritage Awards since 2015, performing for millions of viewers via PBS. Believing that access to high-quality art experiences should be available to everyone, The American Pops has created outreach programs that deliver musical and artistic experiences to underserved arts-lovers of every age. In addition to providing to those with limited resources, APO is dedicated to assisting the artistic community through partnering with other arts organizations to build community in the arts world.

Meet Maestro Luke Frazier

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,” and most recently named 5 of Washington, DC’s “Men on the Move” by Modern Luxury.  Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and musical theatre legend, Marvin Hamlisch is quoted as 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, Kravis Center, The Kennedy Center and 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 yearly tours to underserved schools in Appalachia. He has also recently joined the board of the NY Festival of Song and is an Artistic Advisor for the Capitol Conversation and Performing Arts Series in Washington, DC.

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, Harry Connick Jr., Patti LaBelle, Joshua Bell, Jessie Mueller, Renée Fleming, Darren Criss, Vanessa Williams, Liz Callaway, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Betty Who, Laura Osnes, Wynton Marsalis, Eric Owens, Marilyn Maye, Liza Minnelli, Rita Moreno, Lindsay Mendez, Michael Feinstein, Kathy Najimy, Paige Davis, Arturo Sandoval, and Norm Lewis, among many others.

Follow the maestro:
Instagram: @fraziersedge
Twitter: @LSFConductor

Meet The APO Musicians

Violin 1
Sarah D’Angelo
Sonya Hayes

Sarah McIver

Jerry Amoury

Violin 2
Laura Frazelle
Marissa Murphy

Shawn Buck

Jim Roberts

Stephanie Knutsen
Matthew Maffett
Elizabeth Stahr

Brandon Cave

Alex Tang

Danielle Cho
Barbara Brown
Jihea Choi

French Horn
Chandra Cervantes

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A Message from The APO

As an organization that strives to break the mold of classical concerts, we are using the COVID-19 situation to continue connecting with all of our patrons virtually. With this in mind, we will be changing the format of our remaining events this season. Our NextGen competition, Music & Mindfulness practice, and MainStage show will no longer be taking place at Arena Stage, but instead will be transformed into virtual performances to accommodate social regulations in place throughout our community. Each show will feature the APO musicians and original scores you have come to love, that will accompany our performers, yoga instructor, Dan Carter, and APO artists.

In addition, we have created a new initiative called “APO United” to continue to employ and support our artists through these uncertain times.

Each week, APO will be posting intimate cyber concerts by past artists, highlights from our APO instrumentalist, and playlists of positivity by Maestro Luke Frazier. Join us for this virtual series on our Instagram, Youtube Channel, or Facebook Page. If you’re able, please consider donating here to support our artists through this new series.

We apologize for any inconvenience this causes for our ticket purchasers, but ask that you will consider donating your ticket payment to help support the APO (a tax-deductible donation), as we will continue to employ our artists throughout the postponing of live events. If you would like your order to be refunded, please email hannah@theamericanpops.org to initiate your refund.