Vijay Gupta believes that the work of the artist and citizen is one: to make a daily practice of the connected, creative, and courageous world we long to live in. Hailed by The New Yorker as “a visionary violinist...one of the most radical thinkers in the unradical world of American classical music” Vijay is an esteemed musician, speaker and thought leader, serving to create spaces of belonging, healing and wholeness through music. He is the Founder of Street Symphony, a non-profit organization that performs free, powerful music events and workshops to Los Angeles communities disenfranchised by homelessness, poverty, and incarceration.
In this episode, we discuss loneliness and brokenness, and the power of music to be the catalyst for connection and healing. Vijay shares his origin story as a child prodigy attending the world-renowned Juilliard School of Music, and the weight this title put both figuratively on his shoulders, and literally on his body, as he used food to cope with difficult emotions.
Vijay reflects on his first time playing music in homeless shelters in Skid Row, what this experience taught him about humanity, pain, and vulnerability, and how he ultimately ended up founding Street Symphony.
Finally, Vijay discusses how he met and formed a relationship with Nathanial Ayers, another Juilliard musician who dropped out due to schizophrenia and became homeless at Skid Row. The story of Nathanial Ayers is portrayed in a Hollywood feature-film, The Soloist, starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.
For full show notes: https://www.baktashahadi.com/podcast
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Produced and hosted by: Baktash Ahadi
Audio Engineering by: Joseph Gangemi
Digital Marketing & Media by: Katherine An
Theme Music by: Qais Essar
Artwork by: Masheed Ahadi
Additional Music Credits
“Mystical Dust” by Mystical Flute