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Episode No. 72 Victor A. Vanacore, Conductor, Pianist, Composer, Arranger

Grammy Award winner Victor Vanacore has been at the nexus of popular music for more than 30 years. Widely respected for his versatility, he has had a long history of fruitful collaborations with the biggest names in the entertainment industry, as a conductor, pianist, composer and arranger.

Originally from New Haven, Connecticut, Mr. Vanacore began learning the piano at age six and wrote his first composition at the age of eight, thus beginning his life-long fascination with music. As a teenager, he played the piano in nightclubs, shows, and theatres, receiving valuable experience along the way by accompanying Broadway acts, opera singers, and celebrities. After serving in the U.S. Navy Band, he enrolled in the Berklee College of Music, from which he recently received an Alumnus Recognition Award as “one of the top 60 Alumni.”

As a symphony pops conductor, his engagements include orchestras nationwide, including the Indianapolis, Buffalo, Phoenix and St. Louis Symphonies, He has also worked with orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, and San Francisco Symphony. Abroad he has worked with the philharmonic orchestras of Calgary, London, Belgrade, Bratislava, and Skopije as well as the Hanover Pops, the Mozarteum Orchestra, and the symphony orchestras of Sydney, Melbourne, Edmonton and Vancouver.

In conjunction with his career as a pops conductor, Mr. Vanacore has had numerous associations with celebrity vocalists. He served as conductor, keyboardist and musical arranger for the Jackson Five as well as conductor and arranger for the Fifth Dimension. Not long afterward, Johnny Mathis hired him as musical director for his world tour. He joined Barry Manilow for 6 years in the same capacity.

Additionally, Mr. Vanacore feels honored to have enjoyed a close ongoing relationship with the musical icon Ray Charles, whom he met in 1990. They remained colleagues and friends until Mr. Charles’ passing in 2004, during which time he served as his musical director, arranger, and opening act. Ray Charles’ only platinum album entitled “Genius Loves Company” features Mr. Vanacore’s orchestral arrangements, including the Grammy-winning “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with special guest Johnny Mathis.

He has also been composing in collaboration with his brother David on the critically acclaimed hit CBS show “Survivor.” Other television credits include music for the 2005 Academy Awards show, Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice,” and “American Idol.” He received the 2009 Telly Award for his musical contribution to the City of Hope cancer center’s fundraising video entitled “Thank You.” Recent CD’s include Natalie Cole, Teena Marie, George Benson, and Dave Koz.

These past few years have seen Maestro Vanacore as composer-in-residence at the Festival of The Arts’ Pageant of the Masters, where he is commissioned annually to provide compositions and arrangements of all styles, Classical to Modern, to accompany living art (tableaux vivants). His religious works include La Sorgente which is based upon the poetry of Pope John Paul II for orchestra, 2 sopranos and 4 tenors. It was performed in 2017 at the John Anson Ford Theatre in Hollywood.

MUSIC: It Was A Very Good Year. Performed by Ray Charles; arrangement by Vincent Vanacore
MUSIC: “La Sorgente” (The Source) Music: Vincert Vanacore Text: St. Pope John Paul II
MUSIC: “Stupore” (Wonderment) about Adam and the Garden. Music: Vincert Vanacore Text: St. Pope John Paul II
MUSIC: Somewhere Over The Rainbow arrangement by Vincent Vanacore Featuring Ray Charles and Johnny Mathis from the album, Genius Loves Company.