The Bach composition OC High School of the Arts senior Priscilla Kim performed on her cello echoed throughout the cavernous hall of the Midnight Mission homeless shelter in downtown Santa Ana.
Some of the shelter’s residents smiled throughout, while others closed their eyes in contemplation, taking in the sounds of the weighty strings.
Afterwards, they cheered, yelled “bravo” and asked for an encore.
Northwood High School senior Jay Lee followed Kim’s performance with a rendition on his viola of “Apres un Reve” by famed composer Gabriel Faure. The shelter resident offered the student the same warm reception and asked for more.
The students’ performance Monday was part of an effort to bring classical arts to a population that otherwise might not have access. For the students, it provided a chance to see how their music can serve as an essential part of the human spirit.
Gupta is the recipient of a 2018 MacArthur Fellow (“Genius Grant”) and founder and artistic director of Street Symphony, a non-profit dedicated to providing musical engagement, dialogue and teaching artistry for homeless and incarcerated communities in the greater Los Angeles region.
During today’s lecture, organized by Arts Orange County, the Fourth District PTA and the Orange County Department of Education, Gupta will discuss how art restores a pathway to the flourishing human spirit and the impactful role of citizen artistry in our communities. The lecture will include a string quartet performance by Orange County high school students led by Gupta, and will conclude with a panel discussion. Lecture topics will include the following:
• How do we transcend our vision of one another through the arts?
• How do the arts speak to people in ways language cannot?
• How does an arts education nurture the kind of empathic and compassionate socially connected lives that our world demands of our students?
• How do we foster students to become engaged members of our community?
• Why is arts education vitally important, especially to those who are most in need?
Gupta has served as a leading advocate for the role of the arts and music to heal, inspire, provoke change and foster social connection. He champions the philosophy that the arts and creativity are an essential part of the human spirit. For communities disenfranchised by homelessness and incarceration, music is not a form of respite or entertainment — it can be a lifeline, according to Gupta.