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"Street Symphony...presented excerpts from Handel's "Messiah" at the Midnight Mission, in the grim heart of L.A.'s Skid Row. About a hundred homeless people listened intently, and burst into applause at the end. The experience left me with a clash of emotions: joy, shame, sorrow, wonder. I do not know what it meant to those who mattered." 

 - Alex Ross, writer and music critic: The New Yorker

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A letter from Founder and Artistic Director Vijay Gupta:

Nathaniel Ayers, the subject of the book and subsequent movie, "The Soloist", attends Street Symphony's "Messiah Project" with LA Times columnist and author Steve Lopez. "The Soloist" inspired Street Symphony's founders Vijay Gupta and Adam Crane to bring the joy of music to Skid Row to reach more people like Mr. Ayers. Read Lopez's recent LA Times column, "Back on Skid Row with Nathaniel Ayers: A Chorus of Hallelujahs for 'Messiah'". (Pictured above: Georgia Berkovich, Director of Public Affairs, The Midnight Mission; Lopez; Ayers; Gupta)

Five years ago, in the basement conference room of a Skid Row mental health clinic, four musicians played a Beethoven string quartet and some holiday carols. The audience was 50 clients of the Department of Mental Health, residents of the streets of Los Angeles, battling addiction and chronic homelessness, many caught in the grip of mental illnesses.

Over one hundred and eighty events later, engagements with people in jails and shelters all over Los Angeles, these same four musicians were joined by an exultant, resounding ‘symphony’ in the heart of Skid Row. A gathering of nearly 60 voices and instruments – some of the very greatest in this city – brought Handel’s glorious “Messiah” to The Midnight Mission. Prior to this culminating event, Street Symphony presented collaborative workshops with the Skid Row community, inviting people to sing with us. They blew us away with their passion, their stories, and their hearts. 

December 4th, 2015: A view from the audience at Street Symphony's "Messiah Project" at The Midnight Mission. 

Last week, Street Symphony’s “Messiah Project”, supported by a grant from the California Arts Council, was recognized by the ‘New Yorker’ as one of the ‘Top Ten Notable Performances of 2015’ by acclaimed music critic Alex Ross. We’ve come a long way since that first performance in a clinic basement in Skid Row. But we still have a long way to go and we need your support. This conversation still needs your voice. 

Music creates a space for people too often neglected in our world. Music allows us to acknowledge the spaces within ourselves that we neglect as well. Street Symphony connects those two places. Music is about the stories of people: of composers and creators, the musicians who bring that art to life, and those who receive, listen, and are moved. Music teaches us that we share our humanity. In that way, Street Symphony has taught us that music is justice. 

We are called to many places. Street Symphony is needed for incarcerated youth at Juvenile Hall, for Veterans with PTSD, and for homeless, pregnant moms. We want to receive, lift up, and share their brave, resilient stories. We want to tell them that their voices matter: their lives matter. We want to tell them that we’re here to stay.  

Street Symphony tells the story of Skid Row resident and "Messiah Project" participant Don Garza. Don was a Desert Storm combat veteran, a marine who experienced homelessness in Skid Row, while suffering severe PTSD. He shares his story of how singing, especially the music of Handel's Messiah, helped him come back to life.   

Help make Street Symphony a symphony without end, a symphony in giving and receiving the beauty and humanity of all people. Help us become an organization where important, necessary, and vulnerable conversations can happen. Please support us by making tax-deductible contribution today. No gift is too small. 

Please join us in bringing music to our world.

Vijay Gupta, MM, LHD
Founder, Artistic Director
Violin, Los Angeles Philharmonic



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