Pianist And Media Personality Lara Downes Springs Into Tremendous 2024

Pianist and national media personality Lara Downes springs into a tremendous 2024. Called “A trailblazing pianist who combines exquisite musicality with an acute awareness of how an artist can make a positive and lasting social impact,” Downes is defining the sound of American Classical music in her performances, recordings and acclaimed radio/video/podcast programs. These pursuits continue with performances at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, featuring two iconoclastic American composers: Margaret Bonds and Philip Glass. Her groundbreaking NPR video series “Amplify with Lara Downes” returns for its fourth season in April, and her new nationally syndicated radio program “Classical Americana” is gaining devoted followers on stations from KUSC in Los Angeles to WQXR in New York. “Here On Earth” her new collaboration with the renowned Miró Quartet, heads from the Mondavi Center, UC Davis to Saratoga Performing Arts in April.

Downes was just appointed the inaugural Creative Partner of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, a unique and forward-looking position that spans performance, curation, artistic planning, community engagement, and education activities. She will make her debut with the orchestra as soloist in Florence Price’s Piano Concerto during the ’24-25 season, and will curate “CURRENT: Routes”, a program exploring unexpected musical connections across the Americana landscape.

Downes started 2024 with a bang, releasing Rhapsody In Blue Reimagined, a radical new arrangement of Gershwin’s classic that honors its centennial and reflects on a century of transformation and immigration. The recording has earned raves and in-depth coverage from NPR Morning Edition, the Wall Street Journal, Gramophone Magazine, Apple Music, Grammy.com, WQXR, WNYC Soundcheck, WNYC All Of It Your Classical MPR, NY1, Amsterdam News, Downbeat (“This is not your daddy’s Rhapsody”), San Francisco Chronicle and SF Classical Voice. Downes’ recent essay about Rhapsody in Blue reached over 10,000,000 readers in the February issue of Hemispheres Magazine, the in-flight publication for United Airlines, which has featured Rhapsody in Blue as its theme music since 1980.

*Downes’ forthcoming album This Land is a kaleidoscopic reflection on diverse American journeys that includes works by Arturo O’Farrill, Kian Ravaei, Jake Heggie and Margaret Bonds, to be released on Pentatone in August. It will also include her Rhapsody In Blue Reimagined recording. More details will be revealed soon.

*Upcoming performances include two appearances at Disney Hall in Los Angeles. Tonight, March 19, she will perform a selection of Philip Glass’ Etudes. She will return April 6 and 7 as soloist with the Los Angeles Master Chorale in a historic revival of Margaret Bonds’ Credo – the first professional performance of this piece in LA since it was premiered by the LA Phil under Zubin Mehta in 1972, a few weeks after the composer’s death. Credo is a sweeping work set to the 1904 prose poem by W.E.B. DuBois, a seminal text that imagined a world free from the inequities of Jim Crow America. Downes will also perform Spiritual Suite – Bonds’ magnum opus for piano with each movement based on a traditional Negro spiritual connecting hints of blues, jazz, and gospel with the classical styles of Romanticism and Impressionism. Performances with the Miró Quartet, and with the orchestras of Virginia, Toledo, and New Haven continue into May. See below for her full performance schedule: https://www.laradownes.com/tour

*Downes is the creator and host of Classical Americana, a new nationally syndicated radio program from KUSC/Classical California which explores the defining sound of American classical music and its historical roots. In each episode, Downes takes listeners on a journey down the highways and byways of American music, exploring crossroads where musical traditions merge and transform. She is also a familiar voice on the radio in California as the host of Evening Music on KUSC.

*She is the creator and host of the acclaimed NPR video series Amplify with Lara Downes, featuring uniquely revealing artist-to-artist conversations with trailblazing Black musicians and cultural figures – including Rhiannon Giddens, Jon Batiste, Samara Joy, Allison Russell and her most recent episode with Christian McBride. Season 4 will debut later this year.

Lara Downes is a pianist, personality and advocate who has dedicated her career to uncovering untold stories and championing historically underrepresented composers in a total embrace of American music. She has been called “a musical ray of hope” by NBC News, has performed a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR, has been a New York Times crossword puzzle clue, and has topped the Billboard Classical charts with several of her recent releases. She is a frequent guest on NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered and is the Resident Artist for Classical California KDFC and KUSC.

Lara Downes US Tour Dates:
March 19 – Los Angeles, CA – LA Phil – Philip Glass: Piano Etudes
April 6 – Los Angeles, CA – Lara Downes with LA Master Chorale: Margaret Bonds Credo
April 7 – Los Angeles, CA – Lara Downes with LA Master Chorale: Margaret Bonds Credo
April 16 – Newark, NJ – Spring Gala: Newark School of the Arts
April 20 – Saratoga Springs, NY – Lara Downes with the Miró Quartet
April 21

Saratoga Springs, NY – Lara Downes with the Miró Quartet
April 26 – Toledo, OH – Lara Downes with Toledo Symphony Orchestra
April 29 – Montclair, NJ – Lara Downes: Cali Immersive Residency
May 2 – New Haven, CT – Lara Downes with New Haven Symphony Orchestra
May 13 – New York City, NY – Lara Downes at the Century Club with John McWhorter
May 17 – Newport News, VA – Lara Downes with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra