Classically Trained: Symphony takes on some 'Looney Tunes'

The Internet makes it official: I'm not the only one.

As the newly christened 416th member of the "Looney Tunes introduced me to classical music" Facebook group, I take solace. Now I know there are others who, like me, were first exposed to the highbrow musical world through the (seemingly) lowbrow antics of the "wascally wabbit" and a bald, pronunciation-challenged hunter.

Unlike many a classically trained musician, I didn't grow up in a household exposed to the classics — unless one counts Neil Diamond in the same league as Wolfgang Mozart. Rather, Rossini, Strauss and Wagner first came to me in the hours spent watching "Looney Tunes" reruns on Nickelodeon throughout the 1990s.

These days — with most cartoon music not even requiring the talents of live musicians, much less full orchestras — it's comforting to know that the melodious merits of the legendary Warner Bros. cartoon series have not been lost in time.

On Aug. 6 in Irvine's Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, families will get to see the cartoons of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and their on-screen cohorts accompanied by the Pacific Symphony.

"Bugs Bunny at the Symphony" will feature such classics as "What's Opera, Doc?", "Baton Bunny" and "The Rabbit of Seville." The concert begins at 8 p.m., with the gates opening at 6 p.m.

George Daugherty guest conducts the Costa Mesa-based orchestra, which during the summer calls Irvine home. The Emmy Award-winner and Indiana native knows Bugs well.

Next Saturday's concert is the sequel to "Bugs Bunny on Broadway," the innovative orchestra-and-film show conceived by Daugherty that had its first performance in San Diego in 1990. Over the course of its 21-year run, the show has toured the world and entertained some two million people.

Performing "Bugs Bunny at the Symphony" in Irvine with Orange County's orchestra is especially significant, Daugherty notes in the concert program.

Chuck Jones — the longtime animation director of "Looney Tunes" and co-creator of Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and others — lived and died in nearby Corona del Mar. He was a regular Pacific Symphony concert attendee with his wife, Marian, and daughter Linda — both of whom are scheduled to attend the Aug. 6 concert.

Jones was also present during the 1991 tour of "Bugs Bunny on Broadway" when it came to the amphitheater, then known as Irvine Meadows.

"Chuck stood on this very stage with me that night, enrapturing the sold-out audience with wonderful tales of the golden days of 'Termite Terrace,'" Daugherty writes. "We were all captivated. And rightly so — how often do you get a master class from the master who literally invented a whole new medium?"

An art exhibition from the city of Orange-based Chuck Jones Center for Creativity will also be present before the concert, and costumed characters will roam the grounds.

Tickets for children younger than 14, with the purchase of an adult ticket, are half price in most sections of the amphitheater.

For more information, visit or call (714) 755-5799.

BRADLEY ZINT is a copy editor for the Daily Pilot and a classically trained musician. Email him story ideas at

If You Go

What: "Bugs Bunny at the Symphony" with the Pacific Symphony

When: 8 p.m. Aug. 6. Grounds open at 6 p.m.

Where: Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, 8808 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine

Ticket Information: or call (714) 755-5799

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