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Lara Downes to Release Her Sony Music Debut Album 'For Lenny'

Pianist Lara Downes will release her new album For Lenny, a tribute to Leonard Bernstein in honor of his centennial celebration, February 9, 2018, on Sony Classical. The program spans the landscape of American music from the past, present, and future, presenting a portrait of Bernstein the man, full of boundless curiosity and a fervent belief in the power of music to change our world for the better.

The recording will center around his aptly-named Anniversaries for Piano, musical portraits he composed for his family and friends, new arrangements of his songs, and works dedicated to Bernstein by leading American composers such as Stephen Sondheim, John Corigliano, Stephen Schwartz, Ned Rorem and others. The album will also be introduced by a liner note by acclaimed New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik.

Taking her inspiration from Bernstein's boundary-breaking approach to music-making, Lara will be joined by a selection of guest artists from across the spectrum of genres and generations: opera legend Thomas Hampson, roots singer Rhiannon Giddens (recently named a MacArthur "Genius" Fellow), superstar beatboxer Kevin "K.O." Olusola (a member of the chart-topping a cappella group Pentatonix), and Mexican/American clarinet prodigy Javier Morales-Martinez, whom Lara discovered through the national Young Artists program she founded at the Mondavi Center, UC Davis.

The album will have an innovative, staggered pre-release beginning today, November 15, with twelve weekly, themed 'episodes' that will include a selection of tracks from the album, podcasts on Bernstein and his music, behind-the-scenes videos and more. The first episode spotlights the album's leadoff track Something's Coming with Kevin "K.O." Olusola, a podcast of Lara speaking about the inspiration she takes from Bernstein's legacy, and a behind-the-scenes video of Kevin and Lara in the studio. The Episodes will be available at:

Says Lara of the project: "Of all the many musicians who inspire me, it's Leonard Bernstein who turns up, more or less every day, by my side, over my shoulder, reminding me of what a musician can be. Of what music can do in this world - how it can reach and teach and make things happen. Just imagine what American music was before Lenny came along, everything he changed. I'm only here at all, I think, because of the rules he broke and the doors he knocked down. Imagine the thousands of other musicians who feel the same way. He had outsized dreams and made them come true. He never stopped wondering, searching, questioning the status quo, imagining the future. And at the heart of that, always, always, was love. He loved music and he loved life. And this tribute comes back at him with so much love."

Lara will launch the album with a February 7 performance at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, and will tour the album around the country, including performances in California, North Carolina, Michigan, and Texas, plus two additional New York performances with CUNY and Trinity Wall Street. For Lenny has also received a 2017 Classical Recording Foundation Award, and Lara performed at the annual awards November 13 at National Sawdust in Brooklyn.


Bernstein: Something's Coming - with Kevin "K.O." Olusola

John Corigliano: Anniversary for Lenny

Stephen Schwartz: Anniversaire for Lenny

Eleonor Sandresky: Romance for Lenny

Michael Abels: Iconoclasm/for Lenny

Bernstein: Big Stuff

Bernstein: Anniversary for Johnny Mehegan

Bernstein: Anniversary for Aaron Copland

Bernstein: Anniversary for Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim: I Remember

Bernstein: Cool - with Javier Morales-Martinez

Bernstein: The Story of My Life

Bernstein: Greeting (from Arias and Barcarolles)

Marc Blitzstein: Innocent Psalm, for the Bernstein Baby

Bernstein: Anniversary for Nina

Bernstein: Anniversary for Felicia on our 28th birthday & her 52nd

Bernstein: So Pretty - with Rhiannon Giddens

Daron Hagen: Anniversary in Memoriam

Bernstein: Anniversary for Lukas Foss

Lukas Foss: For Lenny, Variation on New York New York

Ricky Ian Gordon: What Shall We Remember?

Bernstein: A Simple Song - with Thomas Hampson

Shulamit Ran: Exuberance/for Lenny

Bernstein: Anniversary for Craig Urquhart

Craig Urquhart: Remembering Lenny

Theo Bleckmann: Goodbye Chorale/For Lenny

Ned Rorem: Youth, Day, Old Age and Night

Bernstein: Some Other Time

Tour Dates
Dec 2, 2017
CUNY Leonard Bernstein Marathon
New York, NY
Dec 6 & 9, 2017
Bayview Opera House with Catalyst Quartet
San Francisco, CA
Jan 20, 2018
Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, UC Davis
Davis, CA
Jan 27, 2018
Chamber Music Raleigh
Raleigh, NC
Feb 2 & 3, 2018
Sphinx Connect
Detroit, MI
Feb 4, 2018
Ukiah Co
Ukiah, CA
Feb 7, 2018
National Sawdust
Brooklyn, NY
Mar 6, 2018
Southwestern University Sarofim Music Series
Georgetown, TX
Apr 12, 2018
Alaska Classics
Anchorage, AK
Apr 14, 2018
Alaska Classics
Sitka, AK
Apr 29, 2018
Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts
Davis, CA
May 9, 2018
El Paso Pro Musica
Las Cruces, NM
May 11, 2018
El Paso Pro Musica
El Paso, TX
Jun 2, 2018
Trinity Wall Street
New York, NY
Jun 3, 2018
National Museum of American Jewish History Philadelphia, PA

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