What’s up, Daugherty? Toons meet the orchestra at ‘Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II’

Thursday 29th, October 2015 / 10:58
By Ruby Woodruff

BugsBunnyAtTheSymphonyIIVANCOUVER — The wascally wabbit will be making an appearance at the Orpheum Theatre this November for Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II. Created by Emmy Award-winning conductor George Daugherty and celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the concert combines projections of the classic cartoon with live orchestral accompaniment.

The concept came to Daugherty while pursuing a traditional conducting career. He noticed a lack of young people at the symphony and desired to create a performance that would encourage people who didn’t generally visit concert halls to go. Realizing that Looney Tunes was where many people had their first exposure to classical music, he decided to base his program around the cartoons.

“They were brilliantly funny and unbelievable examples of film-making, but at the same time, introduced us all to Wagner and Rossini and Tchaikovsky and Strauss,” Daugherty says. Since nobody had paired cartoons with an orchestra yet, Bugs Bunny on Broadway became the pioneer of this type of production. In 2010, it was refashioned as Bugs Bunny at the Symphony, and in 2013, Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II.

Under Daugherty’s direction, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra will be performing pieces along with many Looney Tunes classics such as “The Rabbit of Seville”, “What’s Opera, Doc?,” and “Rhapsody Rabbit.” There are some new additions for the anniversary, including two Warner Bros. 3D animations of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. The love-drunk skunk, Pepé Le Pew will also be joining in, along with many other beloved characters.

One piece Daugherty is particularly excited about is “Long-Haired Hare,” which features Bugs Bunny and an opera singer named Giovanni Jones. “It is so iconic,” he says, “And we waited 25 years to put it into concert with the full orchestra.”

Daugherty credits the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra with helping the production gain international popularity. In the early nineties, the orchestra was one of the first major international symphonies to recognize it. “Now we’ve performed with over 200 orchestras worldwide and for over 2.5 million audience members,” the conductor says. “It’s really gratifying and the Vancouver Symphony was a part of making that happen.”

Even after 25 years, Daugherty is still thrilled to be touring the production. “The music and the cartoons are absolutely brilliant… The audiences are so energetic and devoted to the material… And it’s fun to have [this] kind of experience in a classical venue.”

That’s all folks!

Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II runs from November 7 to November 8 at the Orpheum Theatre.

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