Lara Downes is among the foremost American pianists of her generation, an iconoclast dedicated to expanding the resonance and relevance of live music for diverse audiences. A trailblazer on and off-stage, she follows a musical roadmap that seeks inspiration from the legacies of history, family, and collective memory. Downes’ playing has been called “ravishing” by Fanfare Magazine, "luscious, moody and dreamy” by The New York Times, and "addicting" by The Huffington Post. As a chart-topping recording artist, a powerfully charismatic performer, a curator and 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 recent Sony Classical debut release For Lenny debuted in the Billboard Top 20 and was awarded the 2017 Classical Recording Foundation Award.
Downes enjoys creative collaborations with a range of leading artists, including folk icon Judy Collins, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, baritone Thomas Hampson, former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, and multi-instrumentalist/composer/singer Rhiannon Giddens. Her close partnerships with prominent composers span genres and generations, with premieres and commissions coming from Jennifer Higdon, John Corigliano, Stephen Schwartz, Paola Prestini, Sarah Kirkland Snider and many others. Downes’ fierce commitment to arts advocacy, mentorship and education sees her working in support of non-profit organizations including the Time In Children’s Arts Initiative, PLAN International, the Sphinx Organization, and NPR’s From The Top, where she will appear as a featured guest host in Spring 2019.
Hew newest touring and recording project, Holes in the Sky, a Sony Masterworks release coming in February 2019, celebrates the contributions of phenomenal women to the past, present and future of American music.