Praised as “a ray of hope” by NBC News, and “glamour with substance” by New York City’s WQXR, LARA DOWNES is at the forefront of American pianists, a trailblazer on and off stage whose musical roadmap seeks inspiration from the legacies of history, family, and collective memory.
As a chart-topping recording artist, a powerfully charismatic performer, a curator, and a taste-maker, Downes is recognized as a cultural visionary on the national arts scene. Lara's forays into the broad landscape of American music have created a series of acclaimed recordings, including America Again, selected by NPR as one of "10 Albums that Saved 2016," and hailed as "a balm for a country riven by disunion" by the Boston Globe. Her first Sony Classical release For Lenny debuted in the Billboard Top 20 and was awarded the 2017 Classical Recording Foundation Award. Her Sony Masterworks recording Holes in the Sky, a celebration of phenomenal women’s contributions to American music, debuted at the top of the Billboard charts.
On the crest of recording and recital acclaim, as well as her popular new NPR show Amplify with Lara Downes, the pianist has begun 2021 with the launch of her own label, Rising Sun Music, dedicated to the music of African-American composers from the 19th & 20th centuries through new works composed for her this year. Theodore Presser Company is honored to launch a companion Rising Sun Music series – publishing solo piano and chamber music in collaboration with Ms. Downes’ new label.
Lara Downes enjoys creative collaborations with a range of leading artists, including multi-instrumentalist, composer, and singer Rhiannon Giddens; cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Simone Dinnerstein, folk icon Judy Collins, baritone Thomas Hampson, writer Adam Gopnik, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove. Her close partnerships with prominent composers span genres and generations, with premieres and commissions coming from Jennifer Higdon, John Corigliano, Stephen Schwartz, Paola Prestini, Clarice Assad, Michael Abels, and many others.
Downes’ fierce commitment to arts advocacy, mentorship, and education includes work in support of non-profit organizations including PLAN International, the Sphinx Organization, the Lower Eastside Girls Club, Washington Performing Arts, and NPR’s From The Top, where she appears as a rotating guest host.
In 2020 Downes celebrated The Year Of The Woman with world premieres of newly discovered works by Florence Price and Margaret Bonds, and large-scale commissions from Paola Prestini and Clarice Assad, in collaboration with the Chicago Symphony and the Louisville Orchestra.