America Again Lara Downes
- 1American Caprice05:03
- 2New York Waltzes: I. Waltz in C00:46
- 3New York Waltzes: II. Hesitation Waltz01:08
- 4New York Waltzes: III. Waltz in A01:19
- 5Shenandoah (arr. for piano)03:57
- 6From Blackbird Hills, Op. 8303:50
- 724 Negro Melodies, Op. 59: No. 10. Deep River05:16
- 8Lonesome Roads: Nocturne01:51
- 9Poems of the Sea: III. At Sea: Allegro vivo (version for piano)04:19
- 10Porgy and Bess, Act II: I Loves You, Porgy (arr. N. Simone for piano)04:19
- 11Sueno Recurrente02:46
- 1213 Anniversaries: No. 3. For Stephen Sondheim01:22
- 14Slumber Song02:34
- 15Gladiolus Rag03:43
- 16The Jazz Singer: Blue Skies (arr. A. Tatum for piano)03:23
- 17Fantasie negre07:09
- 18Blues No. 1 (Sentimental Melody: Slow Dance)01:35
- 20Lil boy named David03:16
- 21The Wizard of Oz: Over the Rainbow (arr. for piano)03:02
Info for America Again
Luscious, moody and dreamy: America Again, a collection of American music inspired by Langston Hughes's poem Let America Be America Again. Pianist Lara Downes mines the traditions of the concert hall, the American Songbook, jazz, ragtime, and folk ballads to capture the essence of the American dream and the American struggle.
As Hughes wrote in 1938, still so true in our time: 'Let America be America again-- The land that never has been yet-- And yet must be--the land where every man is free. Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--Let it be that great strong land of love.'
This music is a tribute to the generations of Americans who dream the impossible: black and white, men and women, immigrants and pioneers. A uniquely diverse American portrait, featuring music by composers including Harold Arlen, Amy Beach, Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Morton Gould, Florence Price, David Sanford, and George Walker.
Lara Downes, piano
American pianist Lara Downes has been called "a delightful artist with a unique blend of musicianship and showmanship" by NPR, and praised by the Washington Post for her stunning performances "rendered with drama and nuance". Known for her eclectic presentations of the piano repertoire - from iconic favorites to newly-commissioned works – her solo performances bridge musical genres and traditions, and engage a wide range of audiences with what San Francisco Classical Voice has called “an elegant example of how accessibility and a breezy relevance can exist, organically, in a classical music concert.’
Downes is the 2016 laureate of the Sphinx Organization Medals of Excellence award, recognizing her influence as an extraordinary artist of her generation and her leadership in expanding audiences for classical music.
Born in San Francisco and raised in Europe, Downes' musical outlook reflects the diversity of her personal heritage and extensive travels. Her interest in connecting music to a wide and inclusive breadth of human experience mines her own mixed African American and Eastern European background and the impressions of her transatlantic adventures to produce a unique range of creative projects, from an exploration of the music of Jewish composers in exile to a centenary tribute to Billie Holiday, from an intimate portrait of the marriage of Robert and Clara Schumann to a sweeping look at the musical breakthroughs of the American 20th Century, all captured with timeless relevance and a deeply personal style that the Huffington Post has called "addicting - Downes plays with an open, honest heart."
Downes' European training under Hans Graf and Rudolph Buchbinder led to early debuts at the Queen Elizabeth Hall London, the Vienna Konzerthaus and the Salle Gaveau Paris, and has won over audiences at diverse venues ranging from Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center to Le Poisson Rouge and Classical Revolution. Recent performances include the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Bargemusic, San Francisco Performances, Maverick Concerts, the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, Portland Piano International and the University of Washington World Series, among many others. Her musical collaborations include diverse partnerships with artists including cellist Zuill Bailey, violinist Rachel Barton Pine, the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet, the Musical Art Quintet, composers David Sanford, Benny Golson, Daniel Felsenfeld, Mohammed Fairouz and Daniel Bernard Roumain, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove. Her original solo performance projects have received support from prominent organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, the Mellon Foundation, the Center for Cultural Innovation and American Public Media.
Lara’s solo recordings have met tremendous critical and popular acclaim. Exiles’ Café (Steinway & Sons, 2013) topped the bestseller charts and was called “ravishing” by Fanfare magazine. Some Other Time (Steinway & Sons, 2014), a duo recording with cellist Zuill Bailey, debuted in the Billboard Top 10 and was called "luscious, moody and dreamy" by the The New York Times. Her recent chart-topping release, A Billie Holiday Songbook, has been embraced by both jazz and classical critics and listeners, called “possibly the most intriguing Holiday tribute” of this centenary year by Jazz Weekly.
Lara’s live performances and recordings are heard regularly on national radio programs with features including NPR Music, Marketplace, Performance Today, Sirius XM Symphony Hall, WNYC's New Sounds, and WFMT’s Impromptu. She is the producer and host of The Green Room, a radio show about the lives of classical musicians, distributed nationally by the WFMT Network. Her writing has been published in Listen Magazine, The Rumpus, Arts Journal and San Francisco Classical Voice. She is the founder and director of The Artist Sessions, a pop-up concert series featuring international soloists and ensembles at the forward edges of classical music.
Lara serves as Artist in Residence at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, UC Davis where she mentors the next generation of young musicians as Director of the Mondavi Center National Young Artists Program. She is the Founder and President of the 88 KEYS Foundation, supporting arts education experiences in California public schools through instrument donations and teaching artist presentations.