With baton in hand, West Virginia University alumnus Luke Frazier will lead the American Pops Orchestra in “Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas with Vanessa Williams” and “United in Song: Celebrating the Resilience of America,” premiering Dec. 15 and Dec. 31, respectively.
Frazier, who graduated from WVU’s School of Music in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in music performance, founded APO as his way of breathing new life into orchestral pops programming and inspiring new audiences to discover music.
"My excellent training at West Virginia University and my proud West Virginia heritage are something that I carry into all of my work across the country,” Frazier said. “No matter where I live or work, my heart will always be in my 'home among the hills.’”
In partnership with The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, Frazier will present a new take one of the most celebrated holiday albums of all time, “Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas.” The 1960 holiday album will be performed in its entirety by APO. They will be joined for feature performances by Dee Dee Bridgewater, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Morgan James, Norm Lewis and Nova Y. Payton. Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award-nominee Vanessa Williams will host and perform during the event.
“To me, it feels more important than ever that we embrace the things that take us back to a simpler time—a time of celebrating the holidays with a sense of nostalgia,” Frazier said. “This extraordinary holiday album has been the soundtrack for so many of us for more than four decades. To share Ella’s iconic music interpreted by a new generation of extraordinary singers is a gift to us all.”
“United in Song: Celebrating the Resilience of America,” features performances by a long list of stars, including Josh Groban, Patti LaBelle and Yo-Yo Ma. Filmed at George Washington’s Mount Vernon and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the program encourages viewers to come together and celebrate our nation’s irrepressible strength as a New Year is welcomed. “Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas with Vanessa Williams” and “United in Song: Celebrating the Resilience of America” will stream simultaneously with broadcast and be available on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV and Chromecast.
Frazier has stayed active at WVU, helping fundraise for the School of Music’s All-Steinway Campaign and donating sheet music. Most recently, Frazier made a $50,000 gift to create The Christine Kefferstan Awards for Excellence, which will award eight $1,000 - 2,000 gifts annually to support students, faculty and the greatest student needs in the School of Music.
“Following Luke’s career has been a real joy,” said College of Creative Arts Dean Keith Jackson. "He blends talent, intelligence and creativity and is now a leading example of a first-rate 21st century musician. He is a fine role model for our students who want to create a unique, meaningful path for our wonderful art form. Personally, I am looking forward to watching both of these nationally televised performances.”
CONTACT: Bernadette Dombrowski
WVU College of Creative Arts
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