American pianist Lara Downes is known for her eclectic presentations of the piano repertoire – from iconic favorites to newly-commissioned works – her performances bridge musical genres and traditions, and engage a wide range of audiences with what San Francisco Classical Voice has called "an elegant example of how accessibility and a breezy relevance can exist, organically, in a classical music concert."
Lara Downes' training under Hans Graf and Rudolf Buchbinder led to early debuts at the Queen Elizabeth Hall London, the Vienna Konzerthaus and the Salle Gaveau Paris. She has since won over audiences at diverse venues ranging from Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center to Le Poisson Rouge and Classical Revolution. Recent performances include Bargemusic, San Francisco Performances, the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, Portland Piano International and the University of Washington World Series, among many others. Downes' musical collaborations include partnerships with artists including cellist Zuill Bailey, the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet, the Musical Art Quintet, and composers Mohammed Fairouz, David Sanford, Daniel Felsenfeld and Daniel Bernard Roumain. Her original solo performance projects have received support from prominent organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, the Center for Cultural Innovation and American Public Media.
Lara Downes' solo recordings have met tremendous critical and popular acclaim. Exiles' Café (Steinway & Sons, 2013) topped the bestseller charts and was called "ravishing" by Fanfare magazine. Some Other Time (Steinway & Sons, 2014), a duo recording with cellist Zuill Bailey, debuted in the Billboard Top 10 and was called "luscious, moody and dreamy" by the The New York Times. Her recent chart-topping release, A Billie Holiday Songbook, has been embraced by both jazz and classical critics and listeners, called "possibly the most intriguing Holiday tribute" of this centenary year by Jazz Weekly.
Downes' live performances and recordings are heard regularly on national radio programs with features including NPR Music, Marketplace, Performance Today, Sirius XM Symphony Hall, WNYC's New Sounds, and WFMT's Impromptu. She is the producer and host of The Green Room, a radio show about the lives of classical musicians, distributed nationally by the WFMT Network. Her writing has been published in Listen Magazine, The Rumpus, Arts Journal and San Francisco Classical Voice. She is the founder and director of The Artist Sessions, a pop-up concert series featuring international soloists and ensembles at the forward edges of classical music. Lara Downes serves as Artist in Residence at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, UC Davis where she mentors the next generation of young musicians as Director of the Mondavi Center National Young Artists Program. She is the Founder and President of the 88 KEYS Foundation, supporting arts education experiences in California public schools through instrument donations and teaching artist presentations. She is a Steinway Concert and Recording Artist.