Lara Downes, amplifying voices of composers and musicians of color

Posted on: July 13, 2021

“Pianist Lara Downes’s new and recent recordings of new or neglected music by women and composers of color are broadening the repertoire for classical pianists, and enriching our musical environment,” writes Brett Campbell in Friday’s (7/9) Oregon Arts Watch. “ ‘Beautiful things can come out of difficulty,’ … Downes says introducing her recording of composer Elena Ruhr’s alluring new Quiet Streets, a composition for piano, saxophone and electronics [about] performing music in a virus-hushed city…. It’s one of her two virtual mini concerts … streaming free on the Oregon Bach Festival site…. Downes’s biweekly National Public Radio podcast series, ‘Amplify’ … features her video conversations with soprano Julia Bullock, jazz pianist Jon Batiste, … Rhiannon Giddens, clarinetist Anthony McGill, and other prominent artists of color…. This year, she also launched Rising Sun Music, a digital-format record label presenting works by Black composers spanning two centuries…. Her spiffy new album releasing next week, New Day Begun, pairs Downes with … violinist Regina Carter, bass-baritone Davóne Tines … and PUBLIQuartet in music by Sam Cooke, jazz vocal legend Abbey Lincoln, the great 20th-century African American composers William Grant Still and Duke Ellington, and contemporary voices such as Daniel Bernard Roumain, Alvin Singleton and more.”