Love at Last Lara Downes
Artist: Lara Downes
Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)
- Jaroslav Ježek (1906 - 1942): Dawn (Arr. J. Siskind for Solo Piano):
- 1Ježek: Dawn (Arr. J. Siskind for Solo Piano)01:29
- Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750): Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645 (Arr. I. Friedman for Solo Piano):
- 2Bach: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645 (Arr. I. Friedman for Solo Piano)03:21
- Debbie Friedman (1951 - 2011): Laugh at All My Dreams (Arr. J. Siskind for Solo Piano):
- 3Friedman: Laugh at All My Dreams (Arr. J. Siskind for Solo Piano)02:36
- Margaret Bonds (1913 - 1972): Credo:
- 4Bonds: Credo: No. 2, I Believe (Arr. L. Downes for Solo Piano)02:35
- Clarice Assad (b. 1978): A World of Change:
- 5Assad: A World of Change03:22
- Gabriel Kahane (b. 1981): Little Love (Version for Piano):
- 6Kahane: Little Love (Version for Piano)03:16
- Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828): Frühlingsglaube, D. 686 (Arr. A. Horn for Solo Piano):
- 7Schubert: Frühlingsglaube, D. 686 (Arr. A. Horn for Solo Piano)03:20
- Iván Enrique Rodríguez (b. 1990): Tree of Life:
- 8Rodríguez: Tree of Life03:58
- Karen Tanaka (b. 1961): Earth:
- 9Tanaka: Earth02:14
- Nyokabi Kariũki (b. 1998): It Only Ever Rains in November:
- 10Kariũki: It Only Ever Rains in November03:19
- DeVon Russell Gray (b. 1980): Even This Laughter; Even Your Tears:
- 11Gray: Even This Laughter; Even Your Tears04:26
- Jimmy López Bellido (b. 1978): By Loving You (Arr. L. Bellido for Solo Piano):
- 12Bellido: By Loving You (Arr. L. Bellido for Solo Piano)02:22
- Sean Hickey (b. 1970): Fluid:
- 13Hickey: Fluid03:48
- Calliope Tsoupaki (b. 1963): Meeting Point:
- 14Tsoupaki: Meeting Point02:45
- Timo Andres (b. 1985): Parting Friends:
- 15Andres: Parting Friends03:23
- Sammy Fain (1902 - 1989): I’ll Be Seeing You (Arr. M. Mayz for Solo Piano):
- 16Fain: I’ll Be Seeing You (Arr. M. Mayz for Solo Piano)02:43
- Dobrinka Tabakova (b. 1980): Simple Prayer for Complex Times:
- 17Tabakova: Simple Prayer for Complex Times05:27
- Patricio Molina: Blessing:
- 18Molina: Blessing03:20
- Vijay Iyer (b. 1971): Crown Thy Good:
- 19Iyer: Crown Thy Good05:20
- Milad Yousufi (b. 1995): Healer:
- 20Yousufi: Healer02:56
- Juhi Bansal: Mirror the Stars:
- 21Bansal: Mirror the Stars01:27
- Hooshyar Khayam (b. 1978): Bright Night:
- 22Khayam: Bright Night02:51
- Valentin Silvestrov (b. 1937): Lullaby:
- 23Silvestrov: Lullaby02:42
- Traditional: Amazing Grace (Arr. S.E. Okpebholo for Solo Piano):
- 24Traditional: Amazing Grace (Arr. S.E. Okpebholo for Solo Piano)02:58
- Audio Commentary:
- 25Audio Commentary02:23
Info for Love at Last
"Love at Last" is pianist Lara Downes’ first Pentatone album, inspired by the poem Sachki, Sachki by the Odessa-born Jewish writer Shaul Tchernichovsky. Downes presents 24 pieces, many of them in world premiere recordings, of works by living composers around the globe. Spanning generations, continents and cultures, these diverse voices are united in a stubborn belief in the possibility of humanity, brotherhood, peace, and compassion, and in the everlasting power of love.
“Shaul Tchernichovsky was a very young man when he wrote that poem in Odessa in 1894. The turn of the twentieth century would bring waves of brutal violence against his Jewish community in Ukraine, revolution in Russia, war throughout Europe and the entire world. A time dark with hatred. By the time he died in Jerusalem in 1943, he had seen, in his seven decades, the worst crimes and atrocities that human beings can inflict upon each other. But he’d also borne witness to uprising, resistance, resilience — evidence of the greatest possible human courage, compassion and transformation. I hope that through it all, he held onto his youthful belief in his fellow man, in our capacity to love each other and for our love to someday save us, at last.
Here I am, writing these words in October of 2022, our own time dark with disaster and destruction — Russian missiles raining down on Ukraine; terror in Iran; an Ebola outbreak in Uganda; the worst mass killing in Thailand’s history; the everyday horror of American gun violence here at home. And everywhere on the planet, lives displaced and destroyed by a relentless cadence of hurricanes and floods, drought and fire. In such darkness, the only light is love; the only choice is to believe in each other and in the brighter promise of years beyond.
The composers on this album are my friends and fellow travelers, all of us finding our way together in a world of change. They shared their music with me when I needed it most, a lifeline to connection and community. And joining us here are our musical ancestors — Bach, Bonds, Schubert — with testaments of their own faith and hope in troubled times. This music expresses love and loss, light and darkness, renewal and redemption. It comes from many different voices, united across generations, continents and cultures through stubborn belief in the possibility of humanity, brotherhood, peace, and compassion, and in the everlasting power of love.” (Lara Downes)
Lara Downes, piano
American pianist Lara Downes has been called "a delightful artist with a unique blend of musicianship and showmanship" by NPR, and praised by the Washington Post for her stunning performances "rendered with drama and nuance". Known for her eclectic presentations of the piano repertoire - from iconic favorites to newly-commissioned works – her solo 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.’
Downes is the 2016 laureate of the Sphinx Organization Medals of Excellence award, recognizing her influence as an extraordinary artist of her generation and her leadership in expanding audiences for classical music.
Born in San Francisco and raised in Europe, Downes' musical outlook reflects the diversity of her personal heritage and extensive travels. Her interest in connecting music to a wide and inclusive breadth of human experience mines her own mixed African American and Eastern European background and the impressions of her transatlantic adventures to produce a unique range of creative projects, from an exploration of the music of Jewish composers in exile to a centenary tribute to Billie Holiday, from an intimate portrait of the marriage of Robert and Clara Schumann to a sweeping look at the musical breakthroughs of the American 20th Century, all captured with timeless relevance and a deeply personal style that the Huffington Post has called "addicting - Downes plays with an open, honest heart."
Downes' European training under Hans Graf and Rudolph Buchbinder led to early debuts at the Queen Elizabeth Hall London, the Vienna Konzerthaus and the Salle Gaveau Paris, and has won over audiences at diverse venues ranging from Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center to Le Poisson Rouge and Classical Revolution. Recent performances include the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Bargemusic, San Francisco Performances, Maverick Concerts, the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, Portland Piano International and the University of Washington World Series, among many others. Her musical collaborations include diverse partnerships with artists including cellist Zuill Bailey, violinist Rachel Barton Pine, the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet, the Musical Art Quintet, composers David Sanford, Benny Golson, Daniel Felsenfeld, Mohammed Fairouz and Daniel Bernard Roumain, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove. 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 Mellon Foundation, the Center for Cultural Innovation and American Public Media.
Lara’s 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.
Lara’s 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 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.