Pianist Lara Downes is a Billboard chart-topping recording artist, a producer, curator, activist, and arts advocate. She has performed on major stages including the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Boston Symphony Hall, the Ravinia Festival, Tanglewood, and Washington Performing Arts, and in clubs and intimate venues including Joe’s Pub, National Sawdust, Yoshi’s, and Le Poisson Rouge.
Ms. Downes’ series of recordings includes Florence Price: PIano Discoveries, a collection of world-premiere recordings of recently discovered piano works by the groundbreaking African American composer, and Some of These Days,comprising freedom songs and spirituals that reflect on social justice, progress, and equality. Her Sony Masterworks recording Holes in the Sky, a celebration of the contributions of phenomenal women to the past, present, and future of American music, was released in March 2019, debuting at the top of the Billboard charts. Her recording For Love Of You marks her concerto recording debut, and celebrates the 200th birthday of the pianist and composer Clara Schumann. Her Sony Classical debut release For Lenny debuted in the Billboard Top 20 and was awarded the 2017 Classical Recording Foundation Award, and America Again was selected by NPR as one of “10 Albums that Saved 2016.”
Ms. Downes enjoys creative collaborations with a range of leading artists, including folk icon Judy Collins, pianist Simone Dinnerstein, former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, multi-instrumentalist/composer/singer Rhiannon Giddens, writer Adam Gopnik, baritone Thomas Hampson, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Her close partnerships with prominent composers span genres and generations, with premieres and commissions coming from Michael Abels, Clarice Assad, John Corigliano, Jennifer Higdon, Paola Prestini, Stephen Schwartz, and many others.
Ms. Downes is the creator and curator of Rising Sun Music, a monthly recording series that sheds light on the music and stories of Black composers over the past 200 years, featuring a wide range of leading instrumentalists and vocalists (including Ms. Downes). She is host of AMPLIFY with Lara Downes, a video series for NPR Music now in its second season, that engages visionary Black musicians and artists in important topics confronting them today; and an evening host and Resident Artist at KDFC. She serves as the inaugural Artist Citizen in Residence for the Manhattan School of Music, as well as a Fellow of the Loghaven Artist Residency. Her work has been supported by the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sphinx Organization, the Classical Recording Foundation Award, the University of California Innovator of the Year Award, and the Center for Cultural Innovation, among others.
Ms. Downes’ fierce commitment to activism and advocacy has her working with organizations including the ACLU, Feeding America, the Lower Eastside Girls Club, the Sphinx Organization, and Watts Learning Center. She is an Artist Ambassador for Headcount, a non-partisan organization that uses the power of music to register voters and promote participation in democracy.
More info at LaraDownes.com.
Lara Downes will perform with The Orchestra Now on April 23 & 24, 2022.
Bio: January 2022