Vijay Gupta is a violinist whose interest in neurobiology and mental health issues has made him a world renowned advocate for the redemptive and regenerative power of music. A TED Senior Fellow, Gupta directs Street Symphony—a musical engagement program presented by distinguished musicians of various genres. It aims to empower citizen-musicians by engaging in dialogue with—and bringing awareness to—issues surrounding communities experiencing extreme poverty, incarceration, and homelessness.
Vijay Gupta is a violinist and renowned advocate for the regenerative presence of artistic voices in social issues. Gupta joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2007 at the age of 19, after having completed an undergraduate degree in biology and a Master’s degree from the Yale School of Music. He made his solo debut with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Zubin Mehta at age 11, and has performed as a recitalist, soloist, and chamber musician on an international scale since the age of eight. He has also performed as a guest concertmaster with the Los Angeles Opera and the UK’s acclaimed Philharmonia Orchestra. He frequently appears on the Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella (new music) and Chamber Music series and is actively involved in several Philharmonic-based community engagement and education initiatives.
“A master of music and medicine.”— The TODAY Show
Gupta is a passionate advocate for the dedicated presence of citizen-artists in social and civic discourse. He founded and directs Street Symphony, a non-profit organization dedicated to engaging distinguished musicians in performance and dialogue with marginalized communities of people experiencing poverty, homelessness and incarceration. A gifted spokesperson for the power of arts to change lives and reconnect us to our shared humanity, Gupta is a TED speaker and Senior Fellow. In 2015, at the age of 27, he was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by the University of La Verne.
Gupta currently plays on a 1731 Domenico Montagnana violin, on generous loan through the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. He is currently completing a PhD degree in community psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and training in interfaith chaplaincy at LAC-USC Medical Center.
“[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 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 classical music outreach concert series—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.