A Conversation with American Pops Orchestra founder Luke Frazier

(Photo property of Yassine El Mansouri & courtesy of Luke Frazier)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

It is a pleasure to welcome Luke Frazier to Jake’s Take.

Luke Frazier’s passion for music has lead him on an incredible adventure.  He has become one of his generation’s greatest maestros and a force to be reckoned with in the Pops world. Luke has worked with a plethora of performing arts icons such as Renee Fleming, Rita Moreno, Liza Minnelli, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Chita Rivera, and Arturo Sandoval.  Also, Luke has also had the distinguished honor of conducting at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts Center’s three largest venues.

He showed his strong commitment to rejuvenating pops programming by founding both the American Pops Orchestra and the National Broadway Chorus in Washington, DC. Luke also inspires the next generation of musicians as the DC Youth Orchestra’s Artist in Residence and offering master classes to musicians of all ages and ability levels across the country. Several organizations such as American University, Ohio University, the National Society of Arts and Letters, and the Fairfax County Public Schools have benefited from Luke’s excellent teaching.

In this edition of A Conversation, Luke Frazier shared the American Pops Orchestra’s origin story and previewed their upcoming September 16, 2017, concert that celebrates the music of the one and only Aretha Franklin.

Jacob Elyachar:  When did you first interested in music? How did that passion evolve into the desire of pursuing a career in performing arts?

Luke Frazier: I fell in love with music during elementary school in West Virginia. I had a fantastic music teacher, Kathy Dawson, who had such a passion for music that became contagious for all of her students. I then had a succession of other amazing music teachers who taught me how powerful music can be.

JE: Could you please share the American Pops Orchestra’s origin story with my readers? 

LF: I very active conducting all over the DC area and realized that my passion was for creating original work for pops orchestras. I wanted a group that could work together to present original programming in new and fun ways. I’m so lucky to have such an amazing group of musicians who’ve gone on this journey with me and who continue to be amazing and inspirational colleagues.

JE: What are some of the challenges that you faced trying to break into the music industry? How did you overcome those obstacles?

LF: Age is an obstacle for any young conductor. I think the critical component to any musical barrier is preparation. I do the homework and go in confident and compassionate, and I get the job done.

JE:  On September 16, the American Pops Orchestra will tackle Aretha Franklin’s legendary songbook? Why did you decide to pay homage to the Queen of Soul?

LF: 2017 is Aretha’s 75th Birthday year. We honored Barbra Streisand last season; it was her 75th Birthday as well. I cannot think of two more amazing pillars of American music than these two women. I also happen to love the music of Aretha completely!

JE: Five incredible women (Michelle Williams, Moya Angela, Ariana DeBose, Bria Skonberg, and Nova Payton) will help bring Aretha’s songs to life. Could you tease how each of these artists will bring their twists to Aretha’s songs? 

LF: Every artist will bring their own voice to these classic songs, I can assure you the music will be as moving as ever. The talent we have assembled for this concert blows me away; these are truly artists of the highest caliber.

JE: What are some of the best ways that my readers can support the American Pops Orchestra? 

LF: Please check out our website www.theamericanpops.org or our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. We would love for you to become a part of the American Pops Orchestra family, we promise you will have a great time!

To follow the American Pops Orchestra’s adventures, visit their social media channels!

For more information about Luke Frazier, visit his website.

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Copyright 2015 Jacob Elyachar