As a kid, George Daugherty woke up early Saturday mornings to catch episodes of the “Looney Tunes,” and those cartoon characters first sparked his love for the symphony and classical music.

“We didn’t realize we were hearing Wagner, Rossini, Tchaikovsky or Strauss — all these great composers,” Daugherty said. “I listened to these cartoons again and realized the music was extraordinary, not just on a cartoon level but on a compositional level — a classical music level.”

Inspired by the cartoons, he and David Ka Lik Wong composed original scores to perform with a live symphony orchestra. Now, Daugherty is guest-conducting the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra for the 30th anniversary of “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony” at Bass Performance Hall from Sept. 3-5. 

If you want to go

When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 3 and 4; 2 p.m. Sept. 5. 

Where: Bass Performance Hall 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth, TX 76102

Price: Tickets start at $35Website: https://access.fwsymphony.org/4862/4915

A screen behind the orchestra will play scenes from the cartoon throughout the performances. “Looney Tunes” saw a resurgence in popularity after it debuted on HBO Max in May 2020, beating out shows like “Game of Thrones” and “Friends” in viewership. “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” the sequel to the 1996 “Space Jam” featuring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the numerous other Looney Tunes characters, came out in July.

Principal trumpet Kyle Sherman, who joined the orchestra in 2016, is excited to see the variety of ages in the audience after the recent reprise of the characters.

“The ‘Looney Tunes’ has been in decades and decades of childhoods across several generations,” Sherman said. “It’ll be interesting to see people coming back to see this thing and watch some childhood favorites. That’s going to make it even more relevant.”

The performances mark the first time the symphony orchestra will return to Bass Performance Hall since it closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This is the 30th anniversary of “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony”. Daugherty said Warner Bros. enthusiastically supported the production from the moment he proposed it. (Courtesy: Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra)

“I kind of felt like I never left,” Sherman said. “It’s like when you go back to your family’s house you grew up in. It’s just like, ‘OK, I’m back home.’ ”

“Bugs Bunny at the Symphony” has played to over 2.5 million people worldwide. The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra last played the show in 2016, and Daugherty is excited for its return to Fort Worth.

“It’s been a rough year and a half with none of us performing,” Daugherty said. “It’s been a long time since these audiences have heard a live symphony orchestra. Our show is very funny because these cartoons are great comic masterpieces. So I hope they get a lot of joy and laughter out of this concert because everyone deserves it.”

Brooke Colombo is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Her position is supported by grants from the Amon G. Carter and Sid W. Richardson foundations. Contact her at brooke.colombo@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter.At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Brooke Colombo

I'm a general assignment reporter for the Fort Worth Report. I'm a recent graduate from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor of Arts in digital and print journalism.

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