American Pops Orchestra Launches LUNCHTIME CONCERT SERIES

American Pops Orchestra Launches LUNCHTIME CONCERT SERIES

Maestro Luke Frazier and THE AMERICAN POPS ORCHESTRA - Washington, DC's innovative hometown orchestra - will launch the 12:15 PM lunchtime concert series "THIRD THURSDAYS" to highlight the unique musical personalities and special talents of the members of their acclaimed ensemble at Live! at 10th and G (First Congregational, UCC Washington - 945 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001). Admission to the 30 minute events are free, but a free-will offering will benefit the DC Youth Orchestra Program, where Mr. Frazier is an Artist-in-Residence.

"THIRD THURSDAYS" concerts will begin on Thursday, October 20 with APO Concertmaster and violinist Regino Madrid in a program featuring standards from the American Songbook and light classical. It will continue on Thursday, November 17 with vocalistsKatherine Riddle, soprano, and Hilary Morrow, mezzo-soprano, singing the works of Noël Coward and Cole Porter. Morrow will appear with the APO this season for their Cinderella program; she was previously featured She Did it Her Way: Women of the Rat Pack in 2015. Mr. Frazier will accompany each performer and serve as the afternoon's host. Additional guest artists will be announced later in the year.

"We decided to start the Third Thursdays program as a way for the American Pops to reach out to the community and provide top-quality music for your lunch break as a midday respite," says Frazier. "We are the only DC orchestra that is sharing American Popular music in this daytime concert format. Since our mainstage concerts only occur a few times a year, I wanted to create more frequent opportunities for audiences to get to know the APO family."

The DC Youth Orchestra Program (DCYOP) was founded in 1960 by Lyn McLain at the request of DC Public Schools (DCPS). DCYOP has been an integral part of the Washington, DC community fostering the musical development and changing the lives of more than 50,000 youth. The first youth orchestra to perform at the Kennedy Center, DCYOP has toured 20 countries, played for US presidents and diplomats, and worked with esteemed musicians such as Aaron Copland, Lorin Maazel, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Marvin Hamlisch. The program has received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award (formerly Coming Up Taller) and the Mayor's Award for Outstanding Contributions to Arts Education. The Catalogue for Philanthropy recently selected DCYOP as "one of the best small non-profits in the Greater Washington region" for its 2016-2017 award year.

"The DC Youth Orchestra Program is developing the next generation of orchestral musicians and patrons of the arts, and the APO is excited to partner with them," continues Frazier. "All profits from Third Thursdays will go directly to support the fantastic programs of DCYOP, which so greatly enrich our city. As an Artist-in-Residence at this great organization, I am proud of our work together and what we will be able to contribute to local neighborhoods."

The official second season of THE AMERICAN POPS ORCHESTRA will open with I'll Be Seeing You: A World War II Love Story onVeterans Day, November 11 at 8:00 PM. The evening features a program of classic standards told with actual letters written between Luke Frazier's grandparents during World War II. It stars a cast of Broadway and TV favorites including Ron Raines (TV's "Guiding Light," Follies at the Kennedy Center, Tony nominated on Broadway), Florence Lacey (Sunday in the Park at the Kennedy Center),Claybourne Elder (The CW-TV's "The Carrie Diaries," Sunday in the Park at the Signature), and Rachel Eskenazi-Gold (currently Christine Daae in Broadway's Phantom of the Opera).

The 2016-2017 season will continue with Don't Rain on My Parade: 75 Years of Streisand (January 13), a new family-oriented Cinderella (March 11) and You Spin Me 'Round: An 80s Dance Party (April 7). Tickets to all shows, which take place at The George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium, are on sale now at

In addition to the regular concerts of the season, Frazier and the American Pops Orchestra performs at the Hispanic Heritage Awards in September 2016 (to be nationally broadcast later); the Beacon Prize, given by Human Rights First to honor commitment to the American ideals of freedom and human dignity, in December 2016; and the DC Standing Ovation Awards, celebrating excellence in the DC Public Schools, in February 2017.

THE AMERICAN POPS ORCHESTRA founded by Luke Frazier presents innovative orchestral programming, featuring groundbreaking concepts to develop and inspire a new audience for the 21st century. This professional orchestra boasts outstanding musicians from New York and Washington DC. The American Pops presented six original orchestral programs in its opening 2015-2016 season, featuring leading Broadway singers, dancers, and actors. The orchestra's October 2015 performance of "Stairway to Paradise: A Gershwin Spectacular" -featuring two-time Tony Award winner Christine Ebersole - was hailed by DC Metro Theater Arts for "inspired arrangements of beloved Gershwin songs that reinvigorate the material and highlight the skill of his musicians." Another season highlight was "A Broadway Christmas" featuring Elaine Paige, the first Lady of the British Musical Stage. Other high-profile performances in the last year include a special event at The Kennedy Center hosted by Tommy Tune, the Hispanic Heritage Awards with Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Arturo Sandoval, the DC Standing Ovation Awards, theatreWashington's Helen Hayes Awards, and The Giving Pledge at the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American History. The APO made its New York debut in December 2015 at the all-star Edith Piaf Centennial Celebration at The Town Hall and was praised for its "sumptuous lilt" by The New York Times.

Luke Frazier has quickly established him as a dynamic force across the music community. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch put it best, calling Frazier "so talented, and sensitive to every nuance." Committed to re-envisioning pops programming, he has proven himself among musical heavyweights as both an accomplished conductor and a sensitive pianist. Frazier has worked with artists Renée Fleming, Kevin Spacey, Denyce Graves, Darren Criss, Lea Salonga, Laura Osnes, Eric Owens, Liza Minnelli, Chita Rivera, Rita Moreno, Christine Ebersole, and Michael Feinstein, among others.

He has the distinction of conducting in all three of the largest venues at the Kennedy Center. In addition to the APO, Mr. Frazier founded the National Broadway Chorus in Washington DC, which has toured through Indianapolis and Chicago, and was featured at the Great American Songbook Foundation Gala, where Mr. Frazier serves on the Board. Mr. Frazier also enjoys an active schedule as a guest conductor. He has recently appeared with the West Virginia Symphony, the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.

In demand as a clinician, adjudicator, and speaker, Luke recently addressed the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO)'s "Summer Music Institute" students. He appeared as the Keynote Speaker for the National Society of Arts and Letters (NSAL) Award for Excellence in the Arts at the Kennedy Center and also addressed the VSA, an international organization for the arts and disability. Luke returned to his alma mater, Ohio University, for a third year of master classes with Broadway talent as part of "Broadway at Ohio" in September 2016. He will also present an original program honoring the 100th anniversary of Ella Fitzgerald's birth with the DC Youth Orchestra in Spring 2017. Twitter:@LSFConductor -