Lara Downes is among the foremost American pianists of her generation, a trailblazer both on and off the 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 tastemaker, Downes is recognized as a cultural visionary on the national arts scene.
Downes' forays into the broad landscape of American music have created a series of acclaimed recordings, including America Again, hailed by The Boston Globe as "a balm for a country riven by disunion."
With a fierce commitment to arts advocacy, 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, 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.
The versatile and impassioned singer was ready to throw in the towel until she heard a message in a Nina Simone song that told her, "You're going be fine. I understand how you feel. Keep going."
The musical polymath offers ideas on everything from Russian satellites and hip-hop, to Bach and football, and how they shape the musical education of America.
The self-described "athletically creative" bassist, vocalist and composer searches for origins and originality while writing an opera with jazz giant Wayne Shorter.
The genre-disrupting violinist talks about the problem with labeling music and the importance of being a role model for young women.
The renowned musician and Late Show bandleader has sage advice on everything from finding your north star and owning your own orbit to honoring lineage.