How classical music helps the incarcerated

Posted on: November 24, 2014

In Sunday’s (11/23) Los Angeles Times, Steve Lopez writes about a concert on Friday for female inmates at the Los Angeles County jail, featuring a string quartet headed by L.A. Philharmonic violinist Vijay Gupta. “When the first piece ended, there were howls of approval. Some of the women stood and applauded, and the musicians seemed just as awed as their fans…. Gupta began performing at homeless shelters and mental health agencies several years ago after meeting [former Juilliard student] Nathaniel Ayers … who was diagnosed with schizophrenia” and lived on L.A.’s skid row. “Gupta and Adam Crane, another mutual friend, formed a nonprofit called Street Symphony and began recruiting local musicians for their cause. And then Gupta met L.A. County Superior Court Judge Rand Rubin, who gladly arranged for Gupta and his cohorts to go to jail…. Rubin was a backer of the county’s merit-based incarceration program, in which motivated inmates study while in jail to prepare for life after release. Recidivism among participants is 27% lower than for the general population, Rubin said.” Inmate Jessica Diaz said the music “makes you feel like you’re in another world. I felt like I wasn’t in jail.”

Posted November 24, 2014

Pictured: Musicians Vijay Gupta, Jason Uyeyama, Joy Song, and Zach Dellinger perform for a group of female inmates at the Los Angeles County Twin Towers facility on Friday. Photo by Mark Boster for the Los Angeles Times