The work of the citizen and the artist is one, says Vijay Gupta: to make sadhana—a daily practice—of the world we envision. Hailed by The New Yorker as a “visionary violinist” and “one of the most radical thinkers in the unradical world of American classical music,” Gupta creates spaces of wholeness and belonging through his work. His album When the Violin was created during quarantine as a means of transforming our collective pain into a restorative, healing narrative. After a time of crisis, he shows us creative ways to revitalize our sense of hope and belonging.
“A master of music and medicine.”— The TODAY Show
Gupta is the founder and Artistic Director of Street Symphony, a community of musicians creating spaces of connection for people in reentry from homelessness, addiction, and incarceration in Los Angeles. He is also a co-founder of the Skid Row Arts Alliance, a consortium dedicated to creating art for—and with—the largest homeless community in America. For his work in “bringing beauty, respite, and purpose to those all too often ignored by society,” Gupta was the recipient of a 2018 MacArthur Fellowship.
A riveting speaker, Gupta has shared his work with dozens of corporations, campuses, conferences, and communities across America over the past 10 years, including The Aspen Institute, Mayo Clinic, US Psychiatric Congress, American Planning Association, and the League of American Orchestras, to name a few. He recently delivered the 33rd annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy—a lecture previously given by Yo-Yo Ma and Maya Angelou—where he was introduced by the Honorable Speaker Nancy Pelosi. To date, his TED Talk, “Music is Medicine, Music is Sanity,” has garnered millions of views.
Gupta has performed as an international recitalist, soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral musician for over 20 years, playing his solo debut with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Zubin Mehta. He was a member of the first violin section of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 12 years, and has collaborated with the Kronos Quartet, the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, and Yo-Yo Ma. Gupta also appears regularly with the Strings Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. A dynamic recording artist, Gupta recently released Breathe, an album of the piano chamber music of Reena Esmail, under his own label. His solo album When the Violin, also recently released, featured the music of Esmail, J. S. Bach, and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Gupta currently serves as the Senior Artistic and Programs Advisor for Young Musicians Foundation. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Marist College, and a Master’s in Music from the Yale School of Music. His principal teachers have included Ani Kavafian and Glenn Dicterow. Gupta plays a 2010 violin made by Los Angeles-based luthier Eric Benning, and can be found on Instagram @guptaviolin.
“Wonderful! Moving, evocative, thought-provoking, inspirational. It is this kind of presentation that moves people to action.”British Columbia Non-Profit Housing Association
“Vijay was a sheer delight. He was not only an incredible storyteller/entertainer/inspiration, he was flexible and easy to work with. I don’t know how to talk about his joining the Nashville Symphony and becoming a part of our community here, but I’m scheming about it!”Porters Call
“[We were so thrilled to] meet the amazingly talented, delightful, and inspirational Vijay Gupta. I have already had emails from Texas Tech Music faculty thanking me for the wonderful evening. One man told me last night that it was the best event he had ever attended on the Tech campus. We over-use the word “brilliant” nowadays, but in Vijay’s case, it fits. Thank you!”Texas Tech University
The Artist’s Way Building a Creative Workplace in a Post-Covid World
Heal Yourself, Change the World A Musical Conversation with Vijay Gupta
The Medicine of Music
In this talk, Vijay (Robert) Gupta explores the connection between music and mental health, explaining why music’s redemptive power may hold more potential than we realize. Gupta draws from his work as director of Street Symphony—a musical engagement non-profit—to illustrate how music can help bring people back from the brink of their darkest times. How does music speak to people in ways language cannot? Why is music education vitally important, especially to those who are most in need? Erudite, eloquent, and passionate, Gupta shows audiences that music isn’t just something to be enjoyed—it's something that can change lives.
Why Music Education is Essential
Vijay Gupta believes strongly that music should be a fundamental element in an educational curriculum, beyond an extracurricular hobby or even a medium to facilitate instruction in other fields, such as math or science. In this talk, he shares his personal journey in music education, tying in his experiences as a young musician struggling to find the meaning in music with the lack of programs and support, as well as the stigma he faced at choosing between a career as a “responsible person” in science and a career in his life’s passion, music. That stigma still exists around music and the arts. Gupta believes music educators are true pioneers in the kind of human education that will shape the kind of empathic and compassionate socially connected lives that our world demands of our young people. Music gives us these human tools, says Gupta—the relational discipline grounded in passion that truly can affect change in the world around us.