Robert Gupta has led an amazing life. Only in his mid-20s, he's already attended Yale and Juliard, done research at Harvard, and played with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. But none of that matters to him as much as helping others through the power of music. He started Street Symphony to bring the beauty of music to the mentally ill and impoverished in Los Angeles. Through his experiences, Gupta was able to see a bridge to healing through music. In this TED video, he offers a truly beautiful quote from Robert Schumann, the classical composer who suffered from schizophrenia:
To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist.
Robert was inspired to start Street Symphony through his friendship with Nathaniel Ayers. Nathaniel was the focus of the book and the movie, 'The Soloist'. Robert saw that playing music brought relief to Nathaniel during the onset of his schizophrenic episodes. Seeing this made him want to help others through the power of music.
I found the image above from the Street Symphony website. It speaks volumes about the impact of Street Symphony's works and also visually represents Schumann's quote perfectly. The reverent and prayerful countenance the woman exhibits here seems to encompass exactly the mission of Street Symphony for me:
Street Symphony...(delivers)...on-site classical music outreach concerts of the highest artistic standard, aimed to enrich the lives of deeply underserved mentally ill living within homeless, incarcerated, and Veteran communities. Street Symphony performs events at prisons, clinics and shelters on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles, as well as public concerts for the community-at-large aimed to raise awareness for issues mental health and homelessness.
Street Symphony is a 501(c)(3) in California and a great example of using art as an agent for change. You can donate to Street Symphony here. Thank you to Robert and the work of Street Symphony.