Classical violinist brings concert events to Skid Row with ‘Road Symphony’ : Misleading Cadence : NPR
Among the most lovely music being carried out in Los Angeles proper now could be occurring on Skid Row. Road Symphony is a corporation bringing skilled musicians to clinics, homeless shelters and jails clustered in and round one of the devastating concentrations of city poverty in america.
“Road Symphony began out of each curiosity and recognition,” mentioned founder Vijay Gupta. He first grew to become conscious of Skid Row after becoming a member of the LA Philharmonic as a 19-year-old violin prodigy. The orchestra’s dazzling steel-clad live performance corridor is situated a couple of mile and a half away.
Gupta was shocked by the poverty and neglect he noticed on Skid Row. The injustice and inequity upset him. He was additionally disturbed by what he noticed because the airless insularity of the classical music world.
A couple of weeks earlier than an upcoming live performance, Gupta sat exterior the Midnight Mission on a round concrete bench, behind a safety gate that separated shoppers and workers from a neighborhood of individuals dwelling in tents and sleeping on the sidewalks exterior.
“It is a 12-step restoration shelter,” Gupta mentioned. “And one of many issues I’ve discovered from being right here for 10 years making music is that we’re all in restoration from one thing.”
As a baby, Gupta mentioned he skilled super ache and trauma. He was for some time in a position to compartmentalize that ache whereas reaching dizzying heights as a musician.
“After I noticed Skid Row for the primary time I felt like a hypocrite,” he mentioned. “I felt that there was extra to my life as an individual, as an artist, as somebody who may belong to the broader material of this new metropolis than solely being on the stage of a corridor the place I got here alive. And so I sort of got here to Skid Row for myself. I got here to Skid Row to know what my very own shadow was.”
Gupta got here up with the concept of Road Symphony as a therapeutic balm, a bridge between two divergent worlds. At first, he mentioned, higher-ups on the Los Angeles County Division of Psychological Well being had been skeptical of the mission. He discovered assist from social staff.
“It is like, listed below are these classical musicians, however they genuinely cared,” mentioned Luis Garcia, who’s now on Road Symphony’s board. He was counseling mentally unwell parolees on Skid Row when he first met Gupta. Garcia discovered himself impressed by a corporation that did greater than drop-in, play a little bit music, then go away. “It is not like they’re outsiders. They’re like, integral to the neighborhood,” he mentioned.
A current Road Symphony efficiency on the Midnight Mission included a world-class singer deciphering Bach’s superb “Cantata No. 82.” The music relies on a Biblical story. An aged holy man is given the possibility to cradle the Christ youngster in his arms, and the expertise fills him with bliss. He introduced, “I’ve sufficient” – in German, “Ich habe genug”– that means, he is able to die in a state of non secular grace.
Additionally on stage was a storyteller: 75-year-old Linda Leigh, a longtime Skid Row resident. She advised a rapt viewers about getting a key to her very personal room after having been on the streets, and the way moved she was to search out two sweets awaiting on her mattress. “I felt like somebody had given me grace,” she mentioned. “And that was sufficient.”
“This work has taught me to count on miracles,” mentioned Gupta. “Each single one that lives right here on the Midnight Mission is a miracle for the truth that they’re nonetheless drawing breath. And I might truly say that each single considered one of us has our personal miraculous story that we are able to solely really discover when that story occurs in service to another person.”