Streets violinist walks out on the LA Phil

Streets violinist walks out on the LA Phil


norman lebrecht

December 17, 2018

The social activist Vijay Gupta, 31, has decided to leave the front desk of the Los Angeles Philharmonic violins to concentrate on his external causes.

Gupta won a $625,000 Macarthur award this year for founding a Street Symphony of homeless musicians.

He said: ‘I feel like the L.A. Phil saved my life when I was a 19-year-old kid. It was the way that I was able to continue being a musician and to continue growing as an artist… I’m really excited to take that artistry beyond Los Angeles and beyond the work of being in an orchestra.’



  • MacroV says:

    I guess it’s a good thing that he has enough to do and the support structure to do it, though it was cool that a member of a major orchestra had this big outside activity, and tried to bring his LA Phil world to the streets of LA. It enhanced the LAPO’s brand.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    Is he leaving the orchestra or just leaving the pressure of being on the front desk? It’s unclear by this article.

    In any case, I wish him the best of luck. He has made an impact in LA and beyond and it’s great that his work has now been recognized by the MacArthur Foundation.

    My only fear is that he has a wonderful position that allows him security and a certain amount of flexibility. Those benefits should not be taken lightly.

    • anon says:

      What pressure? It’s the LA Phil, America’s most laid back orchestra.

      • Doug says:

        The “pressure” in LA is all social. And social appearance at that. If you are not “pretty” enough, you know it. And hard.

        • Angeleno says:

          Take away the words “all” and “most” and then I won’t necessarily disagree with these comments. But to be clear, Mr. Gupta was a rotating section first violinist, not a front desk player. I imagine he could have been a front desk player—magnificent violinist and musician, but clearly his ambitions lie in other directions.

  • Ravi Narasimhan says:

    I remember when he joined the orchestra and the local musical community. The plight of the homeless is dire and in LA it contrasts so starkly with the concentration of wealth all around it. It takes a special talent to give up a steady position and go after a truly hard problem. All the best to him.

  • Jaime Herrera says:

    I’m very glad he was chosen for this award but,… we all know that anyone who has ever received this MacArthur gift disappears into near anonymity within five years. I don’t think they are helping modern Vermeers or Van Goghs or Bachs or Mozarts or Modiglianis and so many others – artists who died penniless but gained immortality much later…. A MacArthur gift to these artists would have destroyed them.

  • NYYgirl says:

    Wishing him everything good!

  • Jack says:

    Walks out? Really???

  • M2N2K says:

    People whose “ambitions lie in other directions” don’t take auditions for front-desk vacancies. And the reason someone remains a “rotating section player” does not mean that that person is not a talented violinist and/or fine musician, but only that in every one of those auditions there was at least one other violinist/musician who was even better. Right now however VG evidently does have different priorities.