Buffet of classical music

Founders of a new symphony orchestra believe their varied programming will make it a success in a city that already has two orchestras, despite a poor economy.

The inaugural concert of the Glendale Philharmonic Orchestra is Jan. 9 at the First Baptist Church of Glendale. The program highlights are Bach’s Prelude from Violin Partita No. 3 in E Major; Symphony for String Orchestra and Timpani by Edward Mirzoyan; and the world premiere of Andante Dolente & Scherzo for Two Cellos and String Orchestra by Andrey Rubtsov.

Future concerts will be a mix of traditional classical works by Bach and Mozart, in addition to Armenian composers and contemporary composers, said founder Ruslan Biryukov, a professional cellist who has performed throughout this country and Europe. The Silver Lake resident was born in Azerbaijan, which was part of the former Republic of the Soviet Union.

The conductor and some of the musicians are Armenian, but music will be of a wider selection, Biryukov said.

“We hope the concerts will find fans from all nationalities, cultures and walks of life,” he said.

Conductor Mikael Avetisyan of Glendale said organizers will take it step by step but eventually he hopes to include composers and soloists of Mexican, Chinese and Korean descent — nationalities that make up the Glendale and surrounding communities.

The reason for starting the orchestra, Biryukov said, was that the city needed a professional orchestra.

The newly organized Glendale Renaissance Orchestra is made up of musicians from another city and the Glendale Symphony Orchestra hasn’t performed in recent years, he said. But the Glendale Philharmonic is based here, he said.

Councilwoman Laura Friedman said she doesn’t anticipate a conflict having three musical organizations in town. Renaissance is doing more of a Boston Pops take, which appeals to those who aren’t classical music fans, she added.

“They are looking to appeal to a lot of people,” she said. “It’s my understanding that the Glendale Philharmonic is focused more on serious classical music. And Glendale Symphony Orchestra we love, and I will do what I can to see it survives.”

It remains to be seen how it will all play out, she added.

Avetisyan doesn’t believe the poor economy will keep them from getting sponsors for more shows. He has been conducting concerts with freelance musicians for more than seven years at the Alex Theatre and has been successful getting sponsors to pay for expenses, he said. One of the major sponsors has been the Armenian Society of Los Angeles, he added.

“The encouraging thing is we are doing concerts and are able to fund a few concerts a year,” he said. “There are sponsors. They pay for this.”

His hope is to provide at least six concerts a year.

“The last seven years we have been doing it with a freelance orchestra, so we can finance a season of regular concerts,” he said.

The first order of business is to prove to prospective sponsors what the musicians can do, he added.

“I want to show the product and then go to businesses to ask for funding,” he said. “Once we show them, it will be easier to work with them in the future.”

Biryukov has secured space in the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church of Glendale. Pastor Charles Updike asked Biryukov to start a concert series and is charging little for the space, Biryukov said, and the Glendale Philharmonic will give the church a portion of proceeds from the concert.

“The acoustics are amazing, and it can seat close to 1,000 people,” Biryukov said.

A foundation has been set up that will run the Glendale Philharmonic, Positive Motions Foundation, and Biryukov is working with four other volunteers from Glendale to start the Positive Motions series, he said. He hopes to create a board of directors and a women’s committee to help raise funds, he said.

There are 16 professional musicians performing in the Jan. 9 concert, Biryukov said. They called him to play with the orchestra, he said.

“We have to succeed when we have that many professionals this enthusiastic,” he said.


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