arts and pop culture | October 01, 2013

Cover Story: (Robert) Vijay Gupta, "The Most Interesting Man in the [Philharmonic]

According to the Los Angeles Downtown News, (Robert) Vijay Gupta is "The Most Interesting Man in the [Philharmonic Orchestra]." And we'll be the first to agree! Not only is he the youngest player in the Los Angeles Philharmonic, but the virtuoso violinist has also become a world renowned advocate for the redemptive and regenerative power of music. The 26-year-old is also a TED Senior Fellow, the director of the Street Symphony organization, and has worked on several prestigious research projects in neuro-and neurodegenerative biology. No wonder the publication put him on the cover of the magazine last month!

“He’s probably one of the most talented people who’s ever auditioned for the Phil,” Daniel Rothmuller, a 42-year Philharmonic veteran, said of Gupta in the magazine article. Gupta has achieved a level of success musically that surpasses that of many with years more experience. But according to Chris Ayzoukian, vice president of production for the Philharmonic, there's another reason he considers Gupta to be such a "unique talent." He's inspired by his abilities, to be sure, but it's Gupta's commitment to use his talents for social causes that Ayzoukian finds so special. Thanks to his background in medicine and science, and, a chance meeting with a mentally ill musician, Gupta founded the Street Symphony to promote music's ability to change our brains, heal ailments, and ultimately, transform lives.

The Street Symphony performs concerts for the mentally ill, imprisoned, homeless, and the otherwise marginalized members of society. Another important component of each event is the Q&A session Gupta holds after every performance. The magazine reports that it's clear Gupta is in his element while interacting with the crowds; a smile stretches over his face each time a participant raises their hand to ask a question. When asked what he hopes to get from these concerts, Gupta replied that he hoped to meet new people and be a part of their lives. He'll be spending much of the next nine months touring with The Phil; celebrating the 10th anniversary of Walt Disney Concert Hall and performing other concerts around the country. But as comfortable as he is performing for affluent crowds, there will always be a big part of his life dedicated to sharing music with people from other walks of life. Audiences who may not see concerts like this otherwise—and audiences who can benefit from the experience in ways we never thought possible. 

If you're interested in what a performance from Vijay Gupta entails, check out this review: “He didn’t simply play music, which would have been wonderful anyway. He talked about the composers and their lives and he answered questions from the floor. It was truly an interactive experience.”—Georgia Berkovich, who runs the Music With a Mission series, with praise for one of Gupta's events. To book him for a speaking engagment, contact The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau.

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