Violinist, speaker, and social justice advocate Vijay Gupta announced the release of his album "When The Violin" on the newly created label, Vidya Projects.
The label was named after "Vidya," a phrase from a prayer to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of learning and music.
The album features works for solo violin that center on loss, loneliness, and forgiveness. Its titular work is the world-premiere recording of Reena Esmail's "When the Violin" as adapted for solo violin. The recording project also includes Esa-Pekka Salonen's "Lachlen verlent" — which translates to "laughter unlearned" — and J.S. Bach's Sonata No. 1 in G minor.
The album's themes are prevalent in Esmail's "When the Violin." The work draws on a poem by the 14th-century Sufi poet Hafiz which reads:
"When / The violin / Can forgive the past / It starts singing."
In conversation with The Violin Channel, Gupta said, "Through the conversations I have had with people in re-entry from incarceration, addiction, and homelessness over the last 10 years, I have come to understand that we create our stories, and therefore, our world.
"We have a choice, to create our identities with the vision of a more whole world, or to retreat into our brokenness... Forgiveness is the brave choice to sing a new story into the world," he added.
Born in 1987 to parents who immigrated from India, Gupta was a student of Ani Kavafian and Glenn Dicterow. When he was 19, Gupta became the youngest violinist in the Los Angeles Philharmonic's history to join the ensemble, where he remained a member until 2018. He is also known for co-founding the Los Angeles-based organization Street Symphony, which aims to engage with local communities experiencing homelessness, incarceration, and poverty. Gupta is also a 2018 MacArthur Fellow and currently serves as Senior Artistic and Programs Advisor for Young Musicians Foundation.
Gupta's new album is the first of six recordings, to be released annually, that aim to "reanimate" and contextualize Bach's violin sonatas and partitas alongside contemporary and commissioned works.