Fairfax Symphony Orchestra’s New Principal Pops Conductor
“We all know young people with old souls and older people who are young at heart—what matters to me is that I approach my work with genuine passion and a want to connect with audiences,” Luke Frazier says. Not yet 30, Frazier is joining the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra this season as the ensemble’s new Principal Pops Conductor. Don’t be deceived by this conductor’s (lack of) years, however. He has quite a bit of experience in the professional music world under his belt.
In the past two years alone, Frazier opened the Chinese Lunar New Year Parade in New York City, directed EGOT-winning Rita Moreno in a Presidential Inauguration celebration at the Kennedy Center, founded the National Broadway Chorus and conducted the Reston Chorale. A triple threat of sorts, he holds a Bachelor of Music in piano performance from West Virginia University and a Master of Music in conducting from Ohio University. He also accompanies groups on piano and conducts both vocal and instrumental ensembles.
“Both genres [vocal and instrumental] inform and enhance each other, especially in my area of conducting when so many of my programs involve vocalists.”
The area of conducting Frazier refers to is “Pops”—lighter, more widely-known pieces played by high-level groups. He hopes to involve audiences in his shows by integrating both traditional and nontraditional elements to the performances: “I’m a classically trained musician, so that can’t help but influence and inform the shows I’ve created. However, my musical background is quite diverse—I’ve conducted everything from Mozart to Motown, Bach to Broadway. I have designed shows for every demographic and consciously try to connect this work to everyday life. I want my programs to be engaging experiences rather than passive or simply listening [experiences]. That was the reasoning behind adding projections, modern dance and DJs within my symphonic work.”
One of the new shows that Frazier is adding to the FSO’s repertoire is “I’ll Be Seeing You,” a love story based on letters written during World War II that Frazier discovered in his grandmother’s home. “The music of the 1940s is very personal for me. My grandmother taught me from a young age to love that music.” This performance will feature recognizable songs from the World War II era by Gershwin, Ellington and more.
This performance and the band’s other offerings throughout the 2014-2015 season will garner even more fans for the FSO, Frazier hopes. “I think that my work will compliment [the FSO’s] traditional classical programming, attracting audiences that, up until now, may not have been inclined to have an orchestral experience. To reach this audience, my programs are thoughtfully put together and musically fulfilling, while offering tunes that are quite familiar to most audiences. Today there are many options out there for entertainment—I’d like to influence those options with experiences that matter.” —Katie Bowles