The Glendale Philharmonic Orchestra was just a vodka-inspired whim a little over two years ago.
Sunday, the orchestra celebrates its second birthday with a performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” narrated by offbeat comedian Emo Philips, at the landmark First Baptist Church of Glendale. The festive program also includes Haydn’s Concerto No. 2 in D Major, the playful “Concerto for Typewriter with Orchestra” by American composer Leroy Anderson — and birthday cake for all.
That a professional classical orchestra was born at a time when other orchestras and the arts in general are struggling is noteworthy. That it has survived two years and appears to be thriving, although still on a shoestring budget, is even more so.
Not bad for an idea fueled by a vodka-tasting party hosted for a gathering of musician friends by Glendale Philharmonic founder and transplanted Russian cellist Ruslan Biryukov.
“I was slightly drunk,” the 33-year-old Biryukov said, laughing. “I just threw it out there. I said, let’s form an orchestra. I didn’t think anyone would take it seriously.”