The American Pops Orchestra has been fortunate to share a close relationship with PBS. This collaboration has led to a number of nationally-televised specials featuring Luke Frazier with APO. The orchestra, in collaboration with Nouveau Productions, has presented shows in a variety of musical styles ranging from Broadway to classic Country and everything in between.
Check out below some of the shows we’ve created! All of these broadcasts are available to watch on Passport: the PBS streaming service. Be on the lookout – there’s more #APOxPBS content coming soon!
In collaboration with the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, the American Pops Orchestra presented an evening celebrating Ella’s iconic album of holiday classics. This performance starred host and vocalist Vanessa Williams with appearances by Dee Dee Bridgewater, Norm Lewis, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Nova Payton, Dave Detwiler and Morgan James.
Filmed in front of a small, socially-distanced live audience under strict COVID-19 mitigation procedures, the program featured performances by “Crazy-Ex Girlfriend”‘s Gabrielle Ruiz (joining APO from Los Angeles); “America’s Got Talent” vocalist Rayshun LaMarr; Broadway star and recording artist Morgan James; Tony Award nominee Laura Osnes, and celebrated recording artist Nova Payton. Hosted by Emmy and Tony Award-winner Judith Light.
Our 2021 PBS New Year’s Eve show featured a wide array of artistic talents and musical genres. Filmed at historic Independence Hall and hosted by Broadway legend Chita Rivera, the show featured performances by Delbert Anderson, David Archuleta, Jencarlos Canela, Judy Collins, Deborah Cox, Drew Gehling, Amber Merritt, Midori, Sandi Patty, Cassadee Pope, Pepe Romero, Lea Salonga, Paulo Szot, and Brandee Younger. The program also featured a newly commissioned performance by The Washington Ballet, led by Artistic Director Julie Kent and choreographed by celebrated choreographer Jessica Lang.
“United in Song” encourages our nation to come together and celebrate our irrepressible strength as Americans. From the enormity of COVID-19 to the significant presence of social injustice, this special evening brings us together in the ever-present pursuit of our uniting as one America. As part of a national PBS broadcast for New Year’s Eve, the performance was filmed at George Washington’s Mt. Vernon. This show includes performances and appearances by Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming, Denyce Graves, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Yo-Yo Ma, Anna Deavere Smith, Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Patti LaBelle, and Juanes.
APO presented a musical celebration of the iconic Broadway score written by legendary composer Stephen Schwartz. The show featured brand new re-imagined orchestrations created in collaboration between APO Music Director Luke Frazier and Stephen Schwartz. The show was hosted by Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, and featured performances by Mario Cantone, Gavin Creel, Ariana DeBose, Cynthia Erivo, Stephanie Hsu, Rita Moreno, Jennifer Nettles, Alex Newell, Isaac Powell, Amber Riley, Gabrielle Ruiz, and Ali Stroker.
Filmed at The Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown, “Broadway” features music that has traveled from the stage to the Billboard charts. The show features performances by Luke Hawkins (Annie Live!), Amber Iman (Hamilton), Steven Mann (Piano, An American in Paris, National Tour), Alexis Michelle (RuPaul’s Drag Race), Jessie Mueller (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), Sam Simahk (Carousel), and Ray Wong (Piano, An American in Paris, National Tour).
“Sacred” showcases music that has transcended the walls of the sanctuary. Set in Hagerstown’s Trinity Lutheran Church, enjoy hymns and anthems adapted by Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Aretha Franklin. Hear performances from Justin Guarini (American Idol), Maureen McKay (Metropolitan Opera), 16 year old organ prodigy Daniel Colaner, Broadway star Adam Hyndman (Hadestown), and Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child).
We traveled to the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia to film the third episode of One Voice. The Poor House Farm Barn and Park created an authentic backdrop for traditional hoedowns and classic country chestnuts. APO was joined by Jake Blount (2020 Steve Martin Banjo Prize), Clay Elder (Company), award-winning folk dancer Nic Gareiss, Leslie Jordan (Will & Grace), and acclaimed singer-songwriter Senora May.
Celebrating a few of the many cultures that have shaped popular music, “American Roots” features Irish and Japanese folk music, bolero, negro spiritual, and Native American music. Enjoy performances from Mauricio Martinez (On Your Feet!), Amber Merritt (Hall Johnson Spirituals Competition: 2020 First Place Winner), Jacqueline Schwab (Ken Burns Documentaries), renowned opera star Asako Tamura, and Native American Hip Hop artist Frank Waln.
The American Pops Orchestra has made it a priority to not only maintain Pre-COVID content in a virtual form, but also create new content to keep our audience engaged and our musicians employed. As an organization that strives to break the mold of concerts, we are using COVID-19 to reimagine our normal operations. Since March we have streamed two full original concerts, created solo performances by instrumentalist and vocalists, rethought our Music and Mindfulness series as a more often and virtual event, and partnered with organizations across the country in our virtual trivia series.
In addition, APO has held multiple in-person socially distanced outdoor Porch Concerts that provide our audience with the opportunity to safely see live art despite the current situation around us. Throughout the pandemic, APO has employed hundreds of musicians and artists and in a time when many other organizations couldn’t. In the words of Maestro Luke Frazier, “we never stopped.”
Moving forward, APO is proud to present our NextGen National vocal competition which will include students from across the country competing virtually for the chance to win a monetary prize and the opportunity to perform in a future APO MainStage Show. This will include a virtual audition and semi-finals with a live (COVID permitting) finals in Spring of 2021. APO has also filmed multiple productions that will be broadcast nationally on PBS. APO has been grateful to keep creating and making music despite the limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and will keep working to bring you, our valued audience, original and unique content.
To support APO as we keep moving forward you can click here, so that we can continue to employ more artists and musicians. If you have any questions about what APO has been doing during the pandemic, please email email@example.com. Thank you and stay safe.