Fil-Am musical director relishes working with Grammy stars
LOS ANGELES — Accompanying Ariana Grande on the piano on Grammy night last February was a dream come true for Troy Laureta. The Hawaii-born Filipino musical director has been on “The Honeymoon Tour” with the powerful vocalist since January. They will continue to be on the road across North America until October 15, so far the latest date booked on the tour.
In a collaboration that began with Troy joining Ariana’s “The Listening Sessions” promotional tour in 2013, the Grammy performance was simply unforgettable.
“Playing at the Grammys is a huge highlight of my career to date,” Troy told Manila Mail in an interview April 13. Proud to be working with a phenomenal team, Troy describes the American pop star as “amazing, so talented and such a joy to work with.” Ariana is also one of today’s most powerful voices, whose ability to convey emotion has drawn praise from critics.
For Troy—who has also worked with Deborah Cox, David Foster, Iggy Azalea, Rita Ora, Charice and Lani Misalucha—being able to take an artist’s studio music, translate it into a live show and see how both the audience and artist react to what he’s created is “indescribable.”
“My job as an MD [musical director] is to make sure the artist is happy and that the audience will have a good time.”
Troy found this calling when he was 15, at a vocal recital with sister Cheesa. “I did my own arrangement of Alicia Key’s ‘Loving You’ and the crowd went wild. It was a full arrangement, and I played the piano. It was one of those moments that solidified my aspiration to arrange and lead a live band,” he said.
His family moved to Los Angeles from Honolulu, chasing a dream and thinking about breaking the ceiling. But it didn’t happen overnight.
Once in LA, Troy and Cheesa were not prepared for the stiff competition.
“It was so overwhelming. We felt like we were small fish in a big pond,” Troy said. But the two siblings worked doubly hard for A2C, the band they had formed. Day in and day out, they practiced and networked as much as they could.
“We never said no for a gig even if it meant doing it just for the exposure,” he added.
By 2008 he had completed music production and audio engineering studies at Musicians Institute and was professionally directing A2C.
“I realized how comfortable I was doing that, and it became a thing where I lead the bands I worked with,” Troy said.
How did he set himself apart?
“I became sensitive to the needs of the artists that I work with. Perhaps it’s one of the qualities that make artists feel comfortable with me.”
The job of a musical director, according to Troy, is to be a leader. In a nutshell: “I bring together the appropriate group of people to make the musical vision of the artist a reality. There are many things in between that, but the ultimate goal is to bring to the stage what the artists want for their show and to push them and everyone to be at their best.”
He considers David Foster and Quincy Jones as his greatest influence. “I’ve actually worked with David Foster in the past, and his knowledge about the industry and music is overwhelmingly inspiring. I’ve learned a lot from both their careers.”
When he’s not on tour, Troy is busy working in the studio, spending time with family and friends if not learning other languages. He calls himself a polyglot. At the moment, he speaks eight languages.
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