Lara Downes has garnered wide acclaim as one of the most exciting and communicative pianists of today's generation, lauded by NPR as "a delightful artist with a unique blend of musicianship and showmanship" and praised by the Washington Post for her stunning performances "rendered with drama and nuance". Lara’s innovative explorations of the piano repertoire - from iconic favorites to newly commissioned works - bridge musical genres, traditions and audiences.
Born in San Francisco of Caribbean and Russian heritage, Downes began piano lessons at age 4, and later spent a decade studying and performing with her sisters in Europe, in what she calls a “gypsy-like existence” that took the family from Paris to Venice, Vienna, Basel and Rome.
Since making early debuts at the Queen Elizabeth Hall London, the Vienna Konzerthaus and the Salle Gaveau Paris, Lara has appeared on the world’s greatest concert stages, winning over audiences at diverse venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to Le Poisson Rouge, the Kennedy Center to Classical Revolution.
Downes’ solo recordings have met with tremendous critical and popular acclaim. Her last solo CD, Exiles’ Café (Steinway & Sons, 2013) topped the bestseller charts and was called “ravishing” by Fanfare Magazine. Some Other Time (Steinway & Sons, 2014), her recent duo recording with cellist Zuill Bailey, debuted in the Billboard Top 10 and was called "luscious, moody and dreamy" by the New York Times.
Lara is heard regularly on national radio programs, including NPR Music, MPR's Performance Today, WNYC's New Sounds, and WFMT’s Impromptu.
She is the founder and director of The Artist Sessions, a pop-up concert series and documentary series featuring international soloists and ensembles at the forward edges of classical music.
Lara serves as Artist in Residence and Director of the National Young Artists Program at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, UC Davis.
Lara Downes is a Steinway Concert and Recording Artist.
“Loving attention to mood and color” — The New York Times
“Addicting - Downes plays with an open, honest heart”— Huffington Post
"An elegant example of how accessibility and a breezy relevance can exist, organically, in a classical music concert" - San Francisco Classical Voice
“A balletic reverie...rendered with nuance and drama” — The Washington Post
“Here is technique so good you’re not even aware of it - she never flaunts it, never gets in the way of the music. You’re only aware that you want to move…” — Fanfare Magazine
“A magnetic force wrapped in flawless technique and a silken touch” — Musical Toronto