Enjoying the after party at the Hotel Amarano are, from left, Marc and Nigel Armstrong, Steven Kerstein and Emily Sheehy. (Daivd Laurell / November 24, 2010)

To mark its 20th anniversary, the Burbank Philharmonic Orchestra recently kicked off its 2010-11 season by staging a celebratory concert at Forest Lawn's Hall of Liberty. Playing to an audience of longtime supporters, new-found friends and Mayor Anja Reinke, the evening's program, directed by Maestro Steven Kerstein, included compositions by Mikhail Glinka, Jean Sibelius, Gioachino Antonio Rossini, Charles Louis Ambroise Thomas and Ludwig van Beethoven.

The highlights included performances by violinist Nigel Armstrong and soprano Narine Ojakhyan, who were the grand prize winners of the orchestra's 2010 Hennings-Fischer Young Artists Competition.

Originally founded as the Burbank Chamber Orchestra in 1991, the orchestra debuted in 1992 and in 2002 officially changed its name to the Burbank Philharmonic Orchestra. Today, along with its seasonal concerts and annual Starlight Bowl appearance, the orchestra is dedicated to numerous programs and presentations that benefit both Burbank and the surrounding communities.

Every February they stage the Hennings-Fischer Young Artist's Competition. Presented in partnership with the Hennings-Fischer Foundation, the competition draws competitors in vocalist and instrumental categories from all over the nation who vie for honorariums and a guest artist performance with the orchestra.

The phil has also established a program they call Musical Menagerie that gives the young, and the young at heart, the opportunity to participate with the orchestra during dress rehearsals by having a hands-on experience with various instruments under the guidance of the musicians.

The orchestra conducts an Amnesty for Instruments program in which used instruments are collected for students who cannot afford to buy them. The phil also regularly invites local third-graders to attend a dress rehearsal, meet the musicians and ask questions of the artists and Maestro Kerstein. Their youth outreach program has been enhanced each year since it was established and is now reaching Burbank Unified School District students from kindergarten to high school.

Other programs include Music in the Classroom, that provides art and music interpretation exhibitions in Burbank elementary schools, and Picture This, in which a recording is played for students in local high school photography classes. The students are then asked to participate in a juried contest that awards prizes for their translations of the music into photographic images.

Following the 20th anniversary concert, special guests and supporters were welcomed to an exclusive after party at the Hotel Amarano. Hosted by Maestro Kerstein and the organization's president, Lynda Willner, those in attendance included the phil's vice president, Judith Daniels and board members Lisa Perry, Bob Diller, Judy Gragg, Larry Lazar, Anne McDonald, Aaron Peterson, Mari Petitto and Gary Reissman.

Others who enjoyed the reception were Suzanne Diller, Marc Armstrong, Emily Sheehy, John Rando, Bob Wakefield, Jeremy Nielsen and Art Berg.