George Daugherty (born 1955) is an Irish-American conductor, director, producer, and writer.
He has guest conducted for many symphonies, including the Los Angels Phillharmonics and the San Francisco Symphony.
Since 1990, he has been notable for creating symphony orchestra concerts which combine film and multimedia with classical music, with the goal of bringing new audiences to the genre of symphony orchestra music. His most successful concert in this genre, Bugs Bunny on Broadway, and its 2010 sequel "Bugs Bunny at the Symphony," combines classic Warner Bros. Looney Tunes projected on a large screen accompanied by a live orchestra performing the original score. This production has been touring the world continuously since 1990 and has played to a total international audience of almost two million people.
Looney Tunes Productions Involved In
- Merrie Melodies: Starring Bugs Bunny and Friends (1990; composer)
- Bugs Bunny on Broadway (1990; conductor)
- (Blooper) Bunny (1991; conductor, musical director, composer)
- Chariots of Fur (1994; conductor, musical director, composer)
- Another Froggy Evening (1995; conductor, musical director, composer)
- Superior Duck (1996; musical director)
- From Hare To Eternity (1997; musical director)
- Bugs Bunny at the Symphony (2010; conductor)
- Indirectly, George Daugherty produced and directed a special called The Magical World of Chuck Jones in 1992 and was the conductor, musical director, off-line video editor, producer, writer, and director of a 1996 ABC special called Peter and the Wolf, which featured animation from Chuck Jones.
Family Life, Education and Early Career
Daugherty was born in Pendleton, Indiana, in 1955, the only son of George Daugherty Sr., an Indiana State Policeman who eventually became Commander of the Indiana State Police, and Charlene Elizabeth Beeson Daugherty, a teacher and educator. Although not from a musical family per se, Daugherty's ancestors included many who pursued their own artistic careers, including his great great great grandfather, American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Daugherty lived in Pendleton for his entire childhood and teenage years, and began studying piano with noted pianist Elizabeth Edmundson at the age of 4. He began cello studies in his teenage years. He attended college at Butler University's Jordan College of Music, where he studied with cellists Shirley Evans Tabachnick and Dennis McCafferty, conducting with John Colbert, and piano with Martin Marks and Frank Cooper. While at Butler, Daugherty also pursued a double major in journalism, and was the recipient of the prestigious Eugene Collins Pulliam / Hilton U. Brown Journalism Scholarship to Butler. At the age of 20, Daugherty was appointed an assistant conductor of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra, where he worked and studied under conductor/composer Thomas Bricetti. While there, he also continued his collegiate studies, having transferred from Butler to Indiana University.
In 1975 at the age of 20, he also founded his own orchestra, The Pendleton Festival Symphony, and upon securing grants from the Indiana Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, the ensemble became a professional summer festival orchestra in 1976, and continued for the next 10 years. He made his professional conducting debut with that orchestra in 1976, at the age of 21, conducting for Metropolitan Opera leading soprano Roberta Peters, who would become a mentor and good friend of the young conductor. Despite his very young age, he was able to bring an impressive array of international talent to appear under his baton at the Pendleton Festival, including violinist Eugene Fodor, Metropolitan Opera leading mezzo-soprano Rosalind Elias, international soprano Nancy Shade, the Harvard Glee Club, and ensembles of principal dancers from American Ballet Theatre, the New York City Ballet, the Royal Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, and the Joffrey Ballet. One of his major Pendleton Festival productions, a tribute on the 100th birthday of the legendary Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, went on to appear at New York's Lincoln Center Festival, and became a Canadian Broadcasting Company television special starring Leslie Caron and an international cast of dancers.
In 1977, Daugherty was accepted as an advanced opera conducting student at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where he studied conducting and opera coaching/accompanying with conductor Kelly Hale, and studied opera repertoire and interpretation with famed Italian basso Italo Tajo. He left the University of Cincinnati in late 1979, when he had the unexpected opportunity to begin conducting for American Ballet Theatre prima ballerina Gelsey Kirkland, which eventually resulted in a position with ABT itself. His major symphony orchestra conducting debut took place in that same year, in November 1979, with his first performance with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in the Eastman Theatre.
Daugherty won a Primetime Emmy Award in 1996 as executive producer of Peter and the Wolf for the ABC Television Network. This new production combined live-action and animation to tell Sergei Prokofiev's musical tale, and featured animated characters designed by Warner Bros. Looney Tunes icon Chuck Jones, and vocal and live-action performances by Kirstie Alley, Lloyd Bridges, and Ross Malinger. Daugherty was also nominated for an additional Emmy for Music Direction of the production, and he and co-writer Janis Diamond received a Writers Guild of America Award nomination for its script. Peter and The Wolf also took the top prize at both the Chicago International Film Festival, and the Houston International Film Festival, and received major awards from the Parents' Choice Awards, Kids First, and the National Film Advisory Board. Daugherty's first Emmy nomination came in 1987, for Music Direction of the PBS television special of Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus. He also received two Emmy nominations for Rhythm & Jam, his series of music education specials for the ABC Television Network. In addition, he has received many other awards for his work in music and music education, including the Indiana State Governor's Arts Award in 1999; the Sagamore of the Wabash, also awarded by the Governor of Indiana (and also awarded to his mother Charlene Daugherty for her lifelong work in education); the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonel for his work while Music Director of the Louisville Ballet (which included over 150 performances with the Louisville Orchestra); and a Special Legislative Resolution of Recognition awarded by the Indiana State Senate. His work has also been recognized by the San Francisco Public Library, which named him a "Library Laureate" in 2006, and by the Library of Congress National Film Archives, which honored him in 2007.