Performance Year: 2020
Lara Downes is among the foremost American pianists of her generation, an iconoclast dedicated to expanding the resonance and relevance of American music for diverse audiences. A trailblazer on and off-stage, Downes’ playing has been called “ravishing” by Fanfare Magazine, “luscious, moody and dreamy” by The New York Times, and “addicting – Downes plays with an open, honest heart” by The Huffington Post. Born in San Francisco and raised in Europe, Downes’ interest in connecting music to an inclusive breadth of human experience mines her mixed Jamaican and Russian background.
Her chart-topping release America Again was included in NPR’s “10 Albums that saved 2016” and called “a balm for a country riven by disunion” by the Boston Globe. Downes’ Sony Music debut album FOR LENNY is a centennial tribute to Leonard Bernstein’s music and legacy. The album was presented with the 2017 Classical Recording Foundation Award and appeared in Billboard’s Top 20.
A 2016 Sphinx Medal of Excellence laureate, Downes is recognized as a leading performer, entrepreneur, and cultural visionary. She enjoys collaborations with Yo-Yo Ma, Rhiannon Giddens, Kevin “K.O.” Olusola, Adam Gopnik, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, among others. Downes has performed in Carnegie Hall, John F. Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, the U.S. Supreme Court, National Sawdust, Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the Vienna Konzerthaus. Additionally, she is Artist-in-Residence at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts – UC Davis, and also directs their National Young Artists Program.
New projects feature appearances on Thomas Hampson’s 50 State tour Song Of America: Beyond Liberty, a duo cabaret show with vocalist Theo Bleckmann, a world premiere of Maxime Goulet’s piano concerto, and “Holes In The Sky,” a recording and concert program of multi-genre chamber music by women composers and poets, which celebrates the lives and dreams of all women.
Lara Downes is a Yamaha Artist.
About Song of America: Beyond Liberty