Warner Bros. Launches Candlelight Concert Series on Studio Lot, With Just a Bit of Fudging on WB’s Music History

Warner Bros. Launches Candlelight Concert Series on Studio Lot, With Just a Bit of Fudging on WB’s Music History

As part of its 100th anniversary celebration, Warner Bros. showcased its historic musical legacy with — of all things — a chamber-music concert Thursday night at its Steven J. Ross Theater on the WB lot in Burbank.

An estimated 700 fans attended the two shows, in which a string quartet played famous movie and TV themes amid hundreds of artificial candles. Unlike most film-music concerts these days, there were no images screened. The music itself took center stage.

Nearly half of the 16 pieces played were from post-2000 films, perhaps a nod to contemporary audiences expecting music they could easily recognize. But in terms of reflecting the rich Warner Bros. history of songs and scores, it was disappointing to find so few from the studio’s first 50 years.

Four of the first five tunes weren’t even from Warner Bros. projects: “Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz” and the title song from “Singin’ in the Rain,” both MGM films; “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You” from the Hanna-Barbera cartoon factory; and “Pure Imagination” from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” a Paramount release. Purists will understandably carp about this, but Warners now owns those titles and thus claims them as their own.

The Orchid Quartet, whose members regularly play on L.A. studio sessions, performed newly arranged versions of these tunes, and predictably, those that were originally written as orchestral works fared best when reduced for smaller forces. The musicians captured the drama in Danny Elfman’s “Batman” theme, the folk-based origins of Howard Shore’s music from “The Fellowship of the Ring” and the inner mystery of Hans Zimmer’s “Time” from “Inception.”

Other moods ranged from romantic (“As Time Goes By” from “Casablanca”) to minimalist (“Tubular Bells” from “The Exorcist”), offbeat (Prince’s “Purple Rain”) to fiery (Zimmer’s “Wonder Woman 1984”). Tracks from “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Man of Steel” and the recent “A Star Is Born” (the Oscar-winning “Shallow”) were also featured.

The finale was a TV classic – Michael Skloff’s theme from “Friends” (with the audience encouraged to provide the hand claps) – and the encore was a surprise, an Elfman action cue from “Justice League.”

Yet the lack of anything by classic-era WB stalwarts Max Steiner (“A Summer Place”) and Erich Wolfgang Korngold (“The Adventures of Robin Hood”) or, from later years, John Williams (“Superman,” the original “Harry Potter” themes) seemed like glaring omissions for a 70-minute compilation of Warner Bros.’ greatest hits.

Live-entertainment discovery platform Fever (“Stranger Things: The Experience”) staged the event, part of its “Candlelight” series of chamber concerts celebrating everything from Vivaldi to Radiohead. It announced that “Candlelight: 100 Years of Warner Bros.” will be performed in 99 other cities around the world, including April 20 in Chicago and April 29 in New York City.

Other cities, with dates to be announced, will include Boston, Dallas, San Francisco, Philadelphia, London, Paris and elsewhere. Isabel Solano, global vice president of Fever originals, told Variety in a pre-concert interview that the various venues will be unique, from churches to palaces to libraries, with the emphasis on creating “a magical atmosphere… a journey through some of the most iconic movie soundtracks” of the studio.

Peter van Roden, senior VP of global themed entertainment for Warner Bros.-Discovery, introduced the evening as commemorating “100 years of storytelling at Warner Bros. The history and the musical library of the studio is vast, and trying to pick an hour or an hour and a half of music is a challenge, but a wonderful one at that.”

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