Cellist Ruslan Biryukov had never planned to start a philharmonic orchestra until the Silver Lake resident hosted a vodka-tasting party for fellow musicians. “I was slightly drunk,” the Russian immigrant told the Glendale News-Press. “I just threw it out there. I said, let’s form an orchestra. I didn’t think anyone would take it seriously.” But that vodka-inspired moment eventually gave birth to the 35-member Glendale Philharmonic Orchestra, which launches its third season on Sunday, Dec. 9 with a Holiday Gala Concert, which will include orchestra founder Biryukov playing cello, of course. More than 20,000 people have attended the orchestra’s performances held at The First Baptist Church of Glendale, and the Los Angeles Arts and Cultural Commission recently awarded a grant to help with the orchestra’s continued development.
“Our mission is to present professional quality, affordable music concerts that enhance the culture of the community,” said Biryukov, who serves as an artistic director as well as the head of the organization that presents the philharmonic.
It’s been eight years since Biryukov moved to Silver Lake, where he enjoys not only walking around the reservoirs the gardens of the Cardinal Timothy Manning House of Prayer for Priests.
“I also really appreciate the location, as it is surrounded by five major freeways–for musicians, it is very convenient,” he said via email. “I like the Astro Family Restaurant and Griffith Park Observatory, which I can see from my window. It’s a great place to live with considerable privacy everywhere. It is calm and peaceful, and of course I love Red Lion Bar, which is a historic place for many, many classical musicians.”
Sunday’s Holiday Gala Concert begins at 4 p.m.