BWW Review: BUGS BUNNY AT THE SYMPHONY II Delights Audiences Of All Ages by Synchronising Live Orchestral Music And Classic Cartoons

Article Pixel

Wednesday 13th July 2016, 7pm, Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House

Bugs Bunny AT THE SYMPHONY II is a crowd pleasing collection of iconic cartoons and live performance of the classical music that lifts them to be so much more than children's entertainment. Led by conductor and co-creator George Daugherty, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, with the aid of Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes gang, entertain, delight and enlighten audiences from all walks of life that classical music is not reserved for the wealthy, educated and elite but has been accessible, and part of our lives, ever since "the Saturday mornings sitting in front of the television in our footy pyjamas eating cereal".

Conductor and Co-Creator George Daugherty and Bugs Bunny (Photo: Jade Kops)

Daugherty's endearing charm shines through as he leads the orchestra, flashing warm, encouraging and expressive smiles as across the orchestra as the tone is set with the Overture, The Dance Of The Comedians from Bedrich Smetana's THE BARTERED BRIDE. This work, presented without images, reinforces Warner Bros. Animation director Chuck Jones' admission to Daugherty that given the option of "watching one of his own legendary cartoons in silence with no music, or of listening to Carl Stalling's music from one of his cartoons, with no picture - that Chuck would have, any day, picked Carl's music and a blank screen". Listening, to the music, it is easy to hear why Stalling chose so many classical works as they contain the suspense, drama and emotions that can tell a story without words.

Daugherty is clearly passionate about this production, which is now in its 25th year and 7th or 8th visit to Sydney, having made its international debut at the Opera House. Throughout the concert he shares a wonderful insight into the history of the works and how the cartoons made their way to the big screen, as they were originally seen as part of a night out at the pictures. He talks with an adoration and respect for Stalling who "literally invented the art of composing for animation", from his meeting Walt Disney and composing for his early works to moving to Warner Bros. As with the original Warner Bros Symphony orchestra that recorded all of the soundtracks for the original cartoons, and all the mainstream movies the Studio was also producing, Daugherty and the orchestra employ some of the same technology, including one of the original instruments required for a Signature Sound. Daugherty explains the 'click track' technology that sees the orchestra all don headphones, not a normal part of a symphony concert, in order to keep to the precision timing required for playing with the unfolding antics on the big screen suspended above the stage.

George Daugherty (Conductor, Co-Creator, Music Director, Co-Producer) and Kelly Hale (Touring Principal Pianist) Perform the Looney Tunes Theme (Video: Jade Kops)


The selection of over a dozen cartoons from the 1946 to 1961 was met with gleeful cheers of recognition when people discovered their favourite shows were included in the line up. In addition to Bugs Bunny, favourites like Daffy Duck, Sylvester, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig, Pepe Le Pew and Penelope Pussycat make appearances. Two new CGI cartoons allow the audience to see the evolution of Wile E Coyote's methods of trying to catch the Road Runner in the 1957 ZOOM AND BORED to more contemporary techniques in RABID RIDER and COYOTE FALLS as the hapless hunter and the zippy bird come to life in three dimensional 'realism'. The line up also welcomes two characters, Tom and Jerry, not originally from the Warner Bros. "stable" but from rival MGM prior to contemporary corporate takeovers and mergers.

Bugs Bunny AT THE SYMPHONY II is a wonderful night out for anyone and everyone. Regardless of whether people are seasoned concert goers or have never dreamed that classical music would be their 'thing', this concert allows people to connect to music in an accessible way, also hopefully opening people to the possibility of seeing other classical music or opera performances. Whilst this engagement has been short, keep an eye out for when George Daugherty and co creator David Ka Lik Wong bring Bugs Bunny AT THE SYMPHONY II back to Sydney.

Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
Wednesday 13th July 2016: 1pm and 7pm
Thursday 14th July 2016: 1pm

BWW INTERVIEWS: BUGS BUNNY AT THE SYMPHONY II with SYDNEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Conductor and Co-Creator George Daugherty Shares His Passion And Enthusiasm With BWW Sydney

Related Articles View More Music Stories

From This Author Jade Kops