While the artistry of the featured performers in “Cirque de la Symphonie” was unparalleled, Allen had some concerns about what type of musical repertoire to use in his symphony concerts. His goal was to enhance the orchestra's performances with visuals, not detract from the music.
Over a period of several years, Allen assembled a body of classical music that he believed would complement any type of circus act he wanted to feature: “The Toreador Song” from “Carmen” for a spinning routine, “Danse Macabre” for an aerial rope act and the “Can-Can” for a ribbon dance.
That repertoire has since been expanded to include music from film (“Hook,” “Harry Potter”), Broadway (“The Phantom of the Opera”) and Latin America (“Tico Tico”). Depending on input from orchestra conductors, the playlist can change slightly or dramatically from one city to the next.
“The emphasis is on balancing the two aspects,” Allen said. “We like to provide opportunities for the orchestra to shine by itself because patrons have a loyalty to their hometown symphony. But we also want to provide a visual element that enhances a live orchestral performance.
“I like to tell people that if we do our job right, 1 plus 1 equals 3. That means the whole is greater than the parts. When you mix great music with brilliant visuals, audiences feel that exhilaration and their jaws drop.”