June 23, 2018 / 5:23 PM

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'Dancing With The Stars' names Ray Chew new bandleader and orchestrator


Less than a week after letting go of Harold Wheeler and his orchestra, ABC named Ray Chew as the music director of Dancing With The Stars

Chew has certainly played bigger gigs than this show: He was the bandleader at Barack Obama's first inaugural ball, and he's also served as music director for The Emmys and American Idol

"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 Dancing executive producer Conrad Green. "Ray is one of the most versatile and dynamic musicians working today. It promises to be a spectacular season."

Chew may be qualified to fill the role, but his hiring still leaves a number of questions unanswered. 

Ray Hair, the president of the American Federation of Musicians, called out ABC for the firing of Wheeler and company last week, alleging that the network was trying to cut costs by eliminating live musicians. Hair claimed that Wheeler's band would be replaced by a smaller, more electronic outfit. Chew's appointment at least confirms that the music will still be live, but neither side suggested how big the new band will be. Hair might still be in a tizzy if Chew's supporting cast is smaller than Wheeler's 18-piece outfit. 

Green had previously made a statement before the firing of Wheeler that the live musicians were struggling to recreate the sounds of modern popular music. If that was the true reason for letting the band go, it seems unlikely that ABC would hire another live bandleader within a week. But if there was anything else at play in Wheeler's exit, neither he nor his band members have given any indication. 

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