9:18am PT by Michael O'Connell
'Dancing With the Stars' Taps New Music Director
Veteran musician and orchestrator Ray Chew is joining Dancing With the Stars for its 18th season. His addition to the ABC/BBC Worldwide series comes within a week of news that longtime band leader Harold Wheeler had departed the show.
Series executive producer Conrad Green gave his first response to backlash from the musicians union, which slammed the firing of Wheeler as a move away from live music.
STORY: 'Dancing With the Stars' Fires Longtime Band Leader
“Live music is the lifeblood of Dancing With the Stars and we couldn’t be more excited to be working with Ray and his talented band," said Green. "Ray is one of the most versatile and dynamic musicians working today. It promises to be a spectacular season."
Chew's lengthy TV résumé includes serving as music director of the 65th annual Emmy Awards, American Idol, It's Showtime at the Apollo and live events like President Obama's Neighborhood Inaugural Ball.
"I'm looking forward to continuing the musical legacy established on Dancing With the Stars, a show that respects live music and musicians," said Chew. "It is important to me and to the producers to maintain the integrity of the music presentation for the dancers as well as for the viewers. Toward that end, my approach will be to utilize first-class live vocalists, arrangers, copyists and musicians of all instruments."