American Pops Orchestra Celebrates ‘What It Is To Be American’ At PBS NYE Concert
“I think we are the only professional orchestra whose payroll increased dramatically during COVID,” said Luke Frazier, founder and maestro of the American Pops Orchestra. “We did more performance during COVID than pre-COVID. We have grown at an astronomical rate.
Before the pandemic, the Frazier Orchestra, like most music and performing arts organizations, was guided by a series of live and in-person concerts, planned in advance at selected venues. But the pandemic gave Frazier the opportunity to experiment with performances – virtual, video, social media, and other unconventional forms. It was Frazier’s experience in video creation that led to a productive relationship with PBS, which continued to broadcast twelve APO programs.
“We’ve had over 40 million viewers now on PBS,” Frazier says. “You compare that to sold-out shows at Arena Stage, and it takes a lot of sold-out sales to hit 40 million.” In the first half of 2022 alone, Frazier plans to record six additional programs for PBS, which will also serve as live concerts for DC audiences. And that’s just one of the many things in the works. “They haven’t announced it yet,” he says, “but there will be another set of APO banners coming out very soon. [from PBS]. “
In the meantime, there’s the APO’s second annual New Years Eve special “United In Song” for the network, this year bearing the subtitle “Celebrating the American Dream.” “There is a heaviness in the world, there is a heaviness in our lives,” explains Frazier. “I wanted to celebrate the progress we have made, the progress we still have to make and what can get us there. I wanted to share how we continue to evolve and improve our quest to be a better nation.
Recorded last fall at Philadelphia’s historic Independence Hall, the star-studded concert, hosted by Chita Rivera, stars Judy Collins, Deborah Cox, Midori, David Archuleta, Sandi Patty, Lea Salonga, Paulo Szot, Jencarlos Canela, and a performance of a new piece commissioned by the Washington Ballet.
“There are so many cultures represented on this stage,” says Fraizer. “And the best part is? It’s all of us who come together to celebrate what it’s like to be American.
United in Song: Celebrating the American Dream premieres Friday, Dec.31 at 9 p.m. and re-airs at 10:30 p.m. ET. Check out local PBS listings, download the PBS video app, or visit www.PBS.org. To learn more about American Pops, visit www.theamericanpops.org.
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