A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC
AMRITA was raised in Oregonian suburbs which, at the time, were a lot more "I, Tonya" and a lot less "Portlandia." She spent a transplanted adolescence outside of Cleveland, where her first paid job was playing violin under a 25-foot animatronic Jesus at an evangelical megachurch.
College swept her to the bucolic Pioneer Valley where she studied mathematics and music at Amherst College. After school, cash poor and full of conviction, she sold her lemon of a car to an ex-boyfriend in order to shore up cash for a security deposit on a New York City apartment, and took up a 9 month position in the programming department at Lincoln Center.
After a rose-colored season working on the inside of New York’s largest cultural institution, Amrita moved to IMG Artists, managing a portfolio of classical soloists, conductors, and crossover curiosities like bluegrassers Punch Brothers and a musical book tour for New Yorker music critic Alex Ross. While the hours were long, the pay low, and the slacks ill-fitting, Amrita did make a few friends, including her creative partner Andrew Stephens, and began stretching her own artistic and curatorial muscles. Together, the two quickly began writing, producing underground performance series, and frequenting every 2-for-1 happy hour the city could offer up.
A classically trained violinist, french horn player, and singer of jazz, vernacular, and Indian classical traditions, NYC also offered a new and bigger playground for new music-making. Amrita dove into Carnatic vocal performance in earnest and performed frequently at concerts, festivals and for dance.
After weathering the worst years of the recession in the music industry, Amrita fled for the “secure” shores of print media, where she managed venue operations at the New York Times’s TimesCenter. There, she worked with hundreds of splashy corporate and nonprofit clients, luxury brands, and performers. Under her team’s auspices, the venue rose to unprecedented profitability. Despite the windfall, she has certain regrets, namely saying “no” to that installation of a 5,000-gallon water tank filled with human mermaids.
To support her subsequent leap to full-time creative producer and writer, the capitalist churn demanded several interesting side ventures including: building financial systems and drafting annual operational budgets at the NYC offices of a global humanitarian NGO (while experiencing the horrifying fishbowl of humanity inside an all-glass coworking space); business consultation for an experiential marketing agency; and serving as the first Managing Director of a progressive and innovative young opera company called Heartbeat Opera.
As co-founder of Vijay & Stephens, Amrita now writes, produces, directs, a variety of live, written, and recorded projects. Her work can be seen on stages, screens, and podcasting platforms near you. The duo are currently developing original scripted works for television.
Born and raised in the foothills of North Georgia, ANDREW got his start working in the baby clothes section at Sears. From there, fate and talent took him to Chilis Restaurant and Bar where he once earned a $500 gift certificate for selling the most margaritas in the region.
Ever practical, Andrew graduated high school early to earn a degree in classical music at the University of Michigan. He again graduated as early as possible, and while the rest of his friends weathered another wretched winter under Midwestern skies, he jumped ship for Orlando on a six month assignment producing events at Disney World.
After Disney, riding high on vitamin D and Cracker Barrel mac-n-cheese, Andrew moved to NYC and secured a job in the Performing Arts Department at Pace University mere seconds before the 2008 financial crash. While there, Andrew music-directed a mainstage production, taught music theory courses, coached singers, directed the school’s choir, and was somehow entrusted as an academic advisor to students only a year younger than himself. During this time he also maintained a staff singing position at Calgary-St. George’s Church where he was a featured soloist in recitals and special programs.
Andrew next moved to IMG Artists where he worked in the booking department, selling classical, jazz, and dance acts to venues across North and South America. There he met his creative partner Amrita Vijay and, after bonding during an ill-planned weekend trip to Miami, the two began their then-nascent career creating original works together as writers, curators, and nightlife mavens.
Meanwhile, weary of working 60 hours a week for peanuts, Andrew called an employment agency and asked for a job with reasonable hours, lots of vacation, and low stress. That’s how he ended up working three admissions seasons at a tony private Quaker school, where he was the stern gatekeeper for a who’s-who of the city’s patrician class including celebrities, titans of industry, and a family who notably insisted that their names be spelled in all lowercase.
With a growing profile as a writer and creative producer, Andrew left the Quakers for a series of part-time ventures to support his art and plain-black-tee-shirt addiction: managing millions of dollars of finances and grants at a food nonprofit; strategy consulting with an “impact investment” nonprofit; marketing a summer music festival in the wilds of Connecticut; managing finances for a small subsidiary of Sony Records; and supporting the growth of a Boston-based opera company whose work was featured in Vogue, the New York Times, and elsewhere.
Today, as part of Vijay & Stephens, Andrew writes, produces, and directs a variety of live and recorded projects. His work can be seen in well known venues around the city, heard anywhere you get your podcasts, and seen on screens in the very near future.