Lara Downes, Michael Mwenso, And Friends Celebrate Earth Day At The Greene Space On April 20

An evening of lively conversation and music, featuring works from Downes' new album Love at Last that explores themes of renewal, rebirth, and redemption.

By: Mar. 29, 2023
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Lara Downes, Michael Mwenso, And Friends Celebrate Earth Day At The Greene Space On April 20

On the cusp of Earth Day and the release of her forthcoming album Love at Last, Billboard chart-topping pianist, cultural catalyst, and media personality Lara Downes co-hosts and performs in Love At Last: A Celebration Of The Earth And Its Inhabitants, a special event at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC and WQXR on Thursday, April 20 at 7:00 p.m.

Downes will be joined by vocalist and bandleader Michael Mwenso for an evening of musical performance and thought-provoking discussion, contemplating our human relationship with the earth and those who have walked it before us. Tickets priced at $20 are available via The Greene Space.

The evening will feature Lara Downes with special guests multidisciplinary musician Samora Pinderhughes and Grammy nominated jazz singer and composer Theo Bleckmann in performances of music by Pinderhughes, Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Weill, Clarice Assad, Hooshyar Khayam, and other composers, exploring themes of hope, community, perseverance and humanity. Downes will share music from Love at Last, her debut album for the Pentatone label, to be released on April 21. Taking its title from a poem by 19th century Ukrainian-born writer Shaul Tchernichovsky, Love at Last is a collection of solo works by diverse composers. Downes says, "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." Additional guests are to be announced.

LARA DOWNES is an iconoclast and trailblazer whose dynamic work as a sought-after performer, a Billboard Chart-topping recording artist, a producer, curator, activist, and arts advocate positions her as a cultural visionary on the national arts scene. Downes' musical roadmap seeks inspiration from the legacies of history, family, and collective memory, excavating a broad landscape of music to create a series of acclaimed performance and recording projects that serve as gathering spaces for her listeners to find common ground and shared experience. Downes is the creator and curator of Rising Sun Music, featuring a wide range of leading instrumentalists and vocalists (including Downes). She is the creator and host of the NPR Music video interview series AMPLIFY with Lara Downes, now in its third season, and Resident Artist for Classical California's KDFC and KUSC, two of America's top classical radio stations. Ever-aware of the social change music can bring, Downes has partnered with regional non-profits working for humanitarian and environmental causes via her initiative I Believe as she tours Love at Last this spring, prioritizing education and community work as central to the project, and ensuring that the impacts of this music are authentic and long-lasting. Her fierce commitment to activism and advocacy sees her working with organizations including the ACLU, Feeding America, the Lower Eastside Girls Club, and the Sphinx Organization. She is an Artist Ambassador for Headcount, a non-partisan organization that uses the power of music to register voters and promote participation in democracy. Learn more at and via Downes' Linktree.

MICHAEL MWENSO was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone but spent his teenage years hanging out at the legendary jazz club Ronnie Scott's in London where he was exposed to musicians such as Benny Carter, Elvin Jones, Ray Brown and Billy Higgins. In his youth, Mwenso started honing his talents as a trombonist, singer and performer playing in jump bands, reggae and Afrobeat horn sections and at hard-bop sessions. Mwenso's talent as a performer caught the attention of many, which subsequently led him to meet James Brown who allotted space for him to sing and dance at his London shows. In 2012, friend and jazz musician Wynton Marsalis brought Mwenso to New York City to serve as curator and programming associate at Jazz at Lincoln Center where he also booked nightly sets at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. Over the next few years, Mwenso booked and performed with the likes of Cécile McLorin Salvant, Jon Batiste, Aaron Diehl, Sullivan Fortner and Jamison Ross. Through these performances at Dizzy's, Mwenso began to collaborate with a wide variety of Juilliard trained musicians that soon became known as The Shakes. This unique group of global artists presents music that merges entertainment and artistry with a formidable timeline of jazz and blues through African and Afro-American music.

THE GREENE SPACE is the street-level broadcast studio and performance venue of WNYC and WQXR, channeling their collective talent to create forward-looking live events as well as original programming that fulfills the mission of New York Public Radio: to make the mind more curious, the heart more open, and the spirit more joyful through programming that is deeply rooted in New York. Since 2009, The Greene Space has hosted musicians including Janelle Monáe and The National, actors Frances McDormand and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, writers Nikki Giovanni and Roxane Gay, newsmakers Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chelsea Manning, among many others.


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