Past Event On April 17, 2021

Vijay Gupta

The Healing Power of Music

Vijay Gupta

“When we show up to make music in Skid Row it’s not about being the perfect artistic product, it’s about being the most present human being.”

Vijay Gupta

The Healing Power Of Music

Virtual Program Date: April 17, 2021

One month before Richmond virtually hosts the international Menuhin youth violin competition, The Forum presented one of America’s most visionary young violinists. A 2018 MacArthur Fellow, Vijay Gupta is the founder of Street Symphony, a musical advocacy program that empowers citizen-musicians by engaging with communities experiencing extreme poverty, incarceration, and homelessness. Gupta combined talk and performance to explore the connection between music, mental health, and a healing community.

“Gupta is a gifted violinst, a talented speaker, a dedicated humanitarian, and a true intellectual, interspersing psychology and philosophy in his presentation.”

– Subscriber Comment


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.

Vijay’s labor of love lies in the creation and direction of Street Symphony, a musical community that serves to shift the context of conversations about homelessness, addiction, and incarceration from retribution to transformation. Street Symphony serves to engage the Skid Row community of Los Angeles through musical encounters and intimate conversations, operating on the core principle that every person has a story to be told, and heard.

A dynamic communicator, Vijay shares his vision for transformative community engagement in the form of musical keynote lectures, workshops, and strategic conversations for companies, conferences, universities, and non-profit organizations. In June 2020, Vijay Gupta delivered the 33rd annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy, introduced by the Honorable Speaker Nancy Pelosi, entitled “The Next Response: Practicing the Future, Now”. His 2010 TED Talk, “Music is Medicine, Music is Sanity”, has garnered millions of views. Vijay is a strategic and artistic advisor for organizations across the United States and serves on the Board of Directors of Americans for the Arts.

“Artists understand forgiveness, because we understand failure.”

– Vijay Gupta

An esteemed violinist, Vijay is a recording artist, an ardent chamber musician, and a collaborator. Gupta 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 8. He has also performed as a guest concertmaster with the Los Angeles Opera and the UK’s acclaimed Philharmonia Orchestra. Vijay served as a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 12 years, which he joined as the youngest violinist in the orchestra’s history, after completing a Master’s degree in Music from Yale University, and a Bachelor’s in biology from Marist College. In October 2020, Vijay headlined alongside the esteemed Kronos String Quartet for UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance “Tune In” festival honoring Pete Seeger.

For his work in bringing beauty, respite, and purpose to those all too often ignored by society, while encouraging us to reflect on many ways we can all make a difference in our world today, Vijay Gupta is the recipient of a 2018 Catherine D. and John T. MacArthur grant.

Vijay believes that an artistic and civic practice is a spiritual practice. He embodies a creative “sadhana” – the Sanskrit word meaning “daily spiritual practice”, and is the creator of the hashtag #creativesadhana on Instagram, where he shares his musical, literary, spiritual, and artistic practice. He invites you to create your own sadhana and to follow his journey at @guptaviolin.

Vijay plays on a 2010 violin made by Los Angeles-based luthier Eric Benning. His album Breathe, featuring the chamber music of Reena Esmail, is available on iTunes.

Who Else has spoken at The Forum?

More than 240 distinguished speakers have participated in The Forum since its inception in 1987. Our list of alumni includes past U.S. presidents, sitting heads of state, and leaders from the sciences, arts, business, and more.

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