The FEU is delighted to welcome the American pianist Lara Downes. This concert is a musical tribute to Langston Hughes and the dream of an America that “never has been yet, and yet must be”… “On display here — with all its regret, hope and pride — is America.” – National Public Radio America Again: a collection of American music inspired by Langston Hughes’s poem Let America Be America Again. Lara mines the traditions of the concert hall, the American Songbook, jazz, ragtime, and folk ballads to capture the essence of the American dream and the American struggle. As Hughes wrote in 1938, still so true in our time: “Let America be America again– The land that never has been yet– And yet must be–the land where every man is free. Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed–Let it be that great strong land of love.” This music is a tribute to the generations of Americans who dream the impossible: black and white, men and women, immigrants and pioneers.
American Caprice – Morton Gould (1913-1996) Shenandoah – Traditional Deep River – Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) Down By the Riverside – Frederic Rzewski (b. 1938) At Sea – Ernest Bloch (1880-1959) Sueño Recurrente – Angelica Negron (b. 1981) New World A-Comin’ – Duke Ellington (1899-1974) God Bless the Child – Billie Holiday (1915-1959) I’ll Be Seeing You – Billie Holiday (1915-1959) Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do – Billie Holiday (1915-1959) I Loves You, Porgy (arr. Nina Simone) – George Gershwin (1898-1937) Rhapsody in Blue – George Gershwin (1898-1937) Please reserve your free ticket here: And join the Facebook event.
About the artist
An iconoclastic pianist whose artistry has been called “luscious, moody and dreamy” by the The New York Times and “ravishing” by Fanfare Magazine, Lara Downes takes inspiration where she finds it, going beyond labels and categories to make music that is timeless and timely, starts conversations, and resonates with the world we live in. She engages audiences of all ages with her charismatic presence, intellectual curiosity, and masterful command of her artistic voice. She is a trailblazer onstage and off, inspiring her audiences with a musicality that the Huffington Post has called “addicting – Downes plays with an open, honest heart.” Born in California and raised in Europe, Downes’ interest in connecting music to a wide and inclusive breadth of human experience mines her own mixed African American and Eastern European background and her peripatetic upbringing. Her recent chart-topping release, America Again (Sono Luminus, 2016) was 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. The recording, her tenth solo release, is in many ways the coming-of-age memoir of an artist who has found her own way and carved her own path through American music, taking inspiration from the legacies of family, history, art and culture to express the diversity of American realities and American dreams. In her own words: “I’ve traveled all around this country and played for audiences in small towns and big cities. I’ve learned that my music is a bridge to unexpected friendships with people who come from very different versions of America than my own. There is no such thing as a typical American life, and there are millions of American stories. American music has a complicated history, full of contrasts and contradictions, just like my own, and I’ve learned that what is most beautiful about me comes down to my contradictions and contrasts.” Not surprisingly, Lara is comfortable in a diverse range of venues, from Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center to Le Poisson Rouge (NYC) and Yoshi’s (SF), and is a tireless advocate and activist for underserved audiences beyond the concert hall. Lara’s music is available on over 200 digital platforms throughout the world, and her recordings are beloved by listeners far outside of the core classical audience. A laureate of the prestigious Sphinx Organization Medal of Excellence, Downes has been recognized as a leader in expanding the reach of the arts, as a performer, an entrepreneur, and a cultural visionary. She enjoys creative collaborations with a range of leading artists, from cellist Yo-Yo Ma to singer Rhiannon Giddens, beatboxer Kevin Olusola, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, and her partnerships with prominent composers span genres and generations to bring significant new contributions to the 21st Century repertoire. When not on the road recording or performing, Lara 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 a Steinway Artist.