Special Day Celebrates Self-Expression, Creativity

Photos by David Laurell / Burbank Leader

First published in the Feb. 5 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

This past Monday was Inspire Your Heart With Art Day.
Granted, it’s not the sort of annual observance in which we decorate our homes, exchange gifts, send out cards or gather with friends and family for elaborate dinners. In fact, it is probably a day in which most people just go about their regular business.
While the origin and founder of Inspire Your Heart With Art Day are unknown, the day has been embraced and promoted by various arts organizations who encourage everyone to celebrate all forms and disciplines of art, each which has the power to inspire, encourage, and touch one’s heart, soul and mind.
One local organization that offers such encouragement is the Burbank Cultural Arts Commission who presented an online event, “Virtually Burbank: Songs in the Key of Burbank,” this past Monday evening.

Angela O’Neill and the Outrageous 8, who call themselves “a little band with big band attitude,” were among Monday’s performers.

The program, which was streamed live on their website and Facebook page, featured performances and interviews with local composers, vocalists, musicians and groups, including VocArte, Angela O’Neill and the Outrageous 8, the Burbank Chamber Music Society, Dear Elise, Lauren Patrice, the Conundrum Theatre Company, Sara Dee, Yoni Fogelman, Nicolina Logan and Shaylin Bectin.
The Burbank Cultural Arts Commission is a city council appointed body composed of Rajasri Mallikarjuna, Leah Harrison, Stefanie Girard, Eric Connor, Jackie Brenneman, Cindy Pease, Suzanne Weerts, Katherine Zoraster and Lusine Simonyan. The commission’s mission is to promote the arts and enrich the lives of Burbank residents by highlighting the diversity of local artists, theatrical and music groups, and media organizations.
Mallikarjuna, who holds degrees in music from Boston University and Berklee College of Music, hosted Monday’s event. Her long history with the local arts community includes service on the board for the Musicians at Play Foundation which promotes music education and local musicians. Professionally, she works for Alfred Music, an educational music publishing company, and is a composer of orchestral and chamber music.
“Eric Connor and all of our commissioners did a great job in putting this event together,” Mallikarjuna said of Monday’s performance.
“We’ve been doing this series — ‘Virtually Burbank’ — since the pandemic began, and even though we have now been able to do a few live events, our on-line social media platform series has gotten a good following, so even as we move forward with plans for future live events we have decided to continue doing our virtual series.”
Explaining that the current commission’s goal is to showcase diverse genres of music, Mallikarjuna said she was pleased that Monday’s program included artists whose genres include big band, classical, rock, folk, jazz, soul and musical theater.
“Our goal is to showcase local artists of all ages and backgrounds by giving them a platform in which to perform, and to also provide the community with a wide range of music that is inspiring and uplifting,” Mallikarjuna said. “We have felt that has been more important than ever to do during the pandemic when people have been in need of inspiration.”
For more information on the Burbank Cultural Arts Commission, upcoming events or to watch last week’s program, visit burbankarts.com. By visiting their website, you can also subscribe to the commission’s e-newsletter that will keep you up-to-date on what’s going on in the Burbank arts scene.

DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.