Sunday, September 4, 2011

Blossom Festival Orchestra: Bugs Bunny at the Symphony

(The full program can be found at the end of this post)
I'm once again in  the midst of a whirlwind travel schedule -- most of last week was spent at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, tomorrow I'm flying to a project in Southern California and there for a jam-packed few days, getting back just in time to drive to a project at Ohio State in Columbus...and then flying back to a different project in Northern California...and I might have a quick visit to Houston, and well... I'll let you know what time zone I land in when September is over.

Way back at the beginning of the summer, though, September was wide open. When Rachel saw Bugs Bunny on the schedule for Labor Day weekend, she was interested and  we marked our respective calendars.

Having not really spent time together for the better part of the week -- and anticipating a large crowd and the traffic attendant thereto we decided to picnic pre-concert.

Before the concert we stopped by the Sheetz on Steels Corners to grab sandwiches MTO (something about ordering using a touch screen eliminates the guilt associated with a BLT, hold the L and T, add Cheddar, Pepperoni, Olives, Pickles, and Mayo) and found a quiet corner of shaded grass just inside the Lot A gate to spread a blanket and chow down. We finished eating as the had-been trickle of concert goers turned into a full fledged stream of all ages: Some young, some old. Some empty handed, some toting a handful of foodstuffs, others looking as if they were prepared to survive for weeks.

Though a sweltering evening, with a bit of time left before the concert started we walked the Blossom grounds...stopping to watch a swarm of bees busily pollinating flowers, making our way around the top of the bowl watching children at play and a densely-packed lawn, rivaling if not surpassing the 4th of July programs. Settling into our seats in the pavilion, we noted that it was comparatively empty.

The program -- now in it's 20th year (though the program note mentions that George Daugherty made his Blossom conducting debut in 1070 [sic]) -- mixes a live orchestra with classic Warner Brothers cartoon clips to reinforce the classical music that was so prevalent in those. Overall, it's a nice concept: I didn't really slip into critical listening mode and spent most of the evening smiling, though I question the value of the clips (indicated with a * below) where the orchestra was not used, instead relying upon the original--recorded--soundtrack. There were also a few places where it seemed that the overall balance, particularly orchestra-to-sound-effects-and-dialogue felt a bit wonky.

I'm not sure what my favorite from the evening was: Wiley Coyote and the Roadrunner are always fun with Zoom and Bored; Baton Bunny, Rhapsody Rabbit, and What's Opera, Doc were fun for the musical gags and in jokes. Scooby Doo's Hall of the Mountain King and The History of Warner Bros. Cartoons in Four-and-One-Half Minutes, of course featured iconic music. Rachel enjoyed but had hoped to hear the full Join Up With Me, So Joyous and Free (from Robin Hood Daffy) and Hello My Baby (from  One Froggy Evening) that were excerpted as part of a medley.


The Full Program
The Dance  of the Comedians (Overture) from The battered Bride. Music by Bedrich Smetana
The Warner Bros. Fanfare. Music by Max Steiner
Merrily We Roll Along (The Merrie Melodies Theme). Music by Charles Tobias, Murray Mencher, and Eddie Cantor; Arr. Carl W Stalling.
Baton Bunny. Based on Franz von Suppe's Overture to Morning Noon and Night In Vienna.
*Excerpt from What's Up Doc?
Rhapsody Rabbit. Music by Carl W. Stalling. Milt Franklyn, piano solo.
*I Love to Singa Medley, including: I Love to Singa, Music by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg; Would you Like to Take a Walk from Naughty Neighbors, Music by Harry Warren; Tiptoe Through The Tulips from A Scent of the Matterhorn, music by Joe Burke; Hello My Baby from One Froggy Evening, Music by Ida Emerson and Joseph E. Howard; A Cup of Arsenic....from Bewitched Bunny, based on Gertrude Lawrence A Cup of Coffee, a Sandwich, and You; Largo Al Factotum from Back Alley Oproar music by Carl Stalling after Gioacchino Rossini from The Barber of Seville;  Join up With Me, So Joyous and Free from Robin Hood Daffy, Music by Milt Franklyn; Square Dance (Skip To My Lou -- Turkey in the Straw), from Hillbilly Hare, music by Carl Stalling, based on American Flok Songs
Zoom and Bored, original score b y Carl W. Stalling and Milt Franklyn; based on The Dance of the Comedians from Bedrich Smetana's The Battered Bride.
*Home Tweet Home, Original Score by Milt Franklyn.
The Rabbit of Seville. Music by Gioacchino Rossini, Arr. Milt Franklyn, based on Overture to The Barber of Seville.
Overture to The Beautiful Galatea. Music by Franz von Suppe.
Tom and Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl. Music by Johann Strauss from the Overture to Die Fledermaus.
Scooby-Doo's Hall of the Mountain King. Music by Edvard Greig using Peer Gynt's In the Hall of the Mountain King.
Bedrock Ballet. Music by Jacques Offenbach: Can-Can from Orpheus in the Underworld.
A Corny Concerto. Music by Carl W. Stalling, Based on Johann Strauss's Tales of the Vienna Woods and The Blue Danube.
*Long-Hared Hare.
What's Opera, Doc?. Music b Milt Franklyn based on Richard Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, Die Walkure, Siegfried, Gotterdammerung, Rienzi and Tannhauser.
Merrie Melodies That's All Folks, Music arr. Carl W. Stalling.
The History of Warner Bros. Cartoons in Four-And-One-Half Minutes. Music by Gioacchino Rossini: William Tell Overture finale.

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