By Ted AYALA
After a prolonged hiatus, the Glendale Philharmonic Orchestra (GPO) is back. Reorganized into a more robust organization, the GPO will once again bring their fiery artistry to the residents of Glendale.
Many local lovers of classical music were stunned by the GPO’s sudden cancellation of its January concert mere days before the performance. Ruslan Biryukov, now executive director of the GPO, spoke to the Crescenta Valley Weekly about the GPO’s past hardships and newly found resurgence of energy.
“The human factor was a crucial factor in the orchestra’s health this year,” commented Biryukov. “So many tragic events happened one after another to myself and members of the orchestra. After earning so many positive reviews, we needed to make a hard choice and maintain the level of quality that we were known for. That meant having to take time off and cancelling our concerts until we were whole again.”
In short succession, a wave of calamities hit members of the GPO. Conductor Mikael Avetisyan’s mother became gravely ill late in December; Ruslan Biryukov’s cousin was killed in an automobile accident. Most perilous to the orchestra’s health was concertmaster Limor Toren-Immerman’s own automobile accident leaving Toren-Immerman’s left arm badly injured.
In the best interests of the orchestra and its affected members, the GPO board decided to cancel its remaining concert for the season. With time off to rethink its strategy, the GPO regrouped and began reimagining its focus and commitment to the community and how it could best go about to succeed.
“We’ve now basically finalizing our structure,” said Biryukov. “During this time, we’ve rebranded the orchestra, designed new logos and poster templates so as to make us stand out in the community, and had our board of directors expanded. We’ve also added new committees to the GPO governing body. All of these new steps will be finalized within two to three weeks maximum.”
Now with personal tragedy overcome, capped by the return to full health of concertmaster Kostyuchek, the GPO is returning to Glendale’s musical landscape with an April 25 concert commemorating the lives that perished in the Armenian Holocaust. Taking place at the Alex Theatre (216 N. Brand Blvd.) at 6:30 p.m., admission is free to the public, but tickets have to be reserved before the concert. The orchestra will also be joined by the Glendale Youth Symphony Orchestra and a children’s choir. It’s fitting that the GPO’s first concert after the break should be in commemoration of the Armenian Holocaust. Paralleling the large scale tragedies of the Armenian people with its own personal grief, the GPO – like the Armenian nation – refused to be defeated and rose anew to stand up to the world.
Biryukov surveyed the orchestra’s past tragedies with a newly won sense of victory.
“From this tragedy we’ve made great progress,” he said. “I’m more confident than ever in the continued success and life of the GPO.”
Details regarding the April 25 concert will be available next week on the GPO’s website at www.glendalephilharmonic.com.
Tickets can be had by calling the Alex Theatre at (818) 243-2539.