“Beethoven was a bad boy of classical music,” says Principal Pops Conductor Andrew Lane. Studying under famed Austrian composer Joseph Haydn, Beethoven routinely misled or blew off his instruction, passing off old works to his teacher and keeping the newest to himself and away from Haydn’s influence. Despite Haydn’s support, Beethoven snubbed his nose and gained a reputation accordingly as a brilliant but radical young composer ready to take the world by storm. Even if his fellows didn’t condone his arrogance, Beethoven had their attention. “People wanted to see what he would do next,” says Lane.

And this is how, in the 21st century, Beethoven finds himself lumped in with Sith lords and cadaverous monsters in a concert performance taking its name from the story of a murderous meth kingpin.

“It’s not just a lot of things thrown on the page,” says Lane, who led last month’s kick-off to Sarasota Orchestra’s Great Escapes series with Breaking Bad, a musical celebration of villains and monsters and the scores that made them famous. So it’s easy to understand how John Williams’ iconic Imperial March from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back made the cut, and selections from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, but Beethoven? That’s what Lane’s there for.

In the same vein, The Beatles were the bad boys of the 1960s with their long hair and their rock and roll and their hordes of hyperventilating female fans. Both Beethoven and these Liverpudlian louts are fitting for the theme, says Lane, but more importantly one provides a worthy complement to other less familiar and heavy works while cleansing the musical palate. “We like the audience to experience Beethoven,” Lane explains, “but then relax with some Broadway or The Beatles.”

As fans of classical music, it’s also an opportunity for conductors to pull lesser-known works they feel do not get the credit they deserve or audiences would not get a chance to see performed elsewise, such as the score to 1931’s Frankenstein or 2005’s King Kong. The film wasn’t great Lane doesn’t think, “but the music that James Newton Howard composed for the film is just terrific.” So audiences can either turn on Peter Jackson’s two and a half hour epic, or they can spend the evening with the Sarasota Orchestra and just hear the best parts.

With five future Great Escapes planned for the year and revolving around holiday themes, romance, Americana and more, Sarasota Orchestra keeps the classic contemporary and the community can tell. “When I started, there were two performances for each show,” says Lane. “Now there are four. It’s grown immensely.”