New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
NBC News calls pianist Lara Downes "a musical ray of hope." For the first time since quarantine, the charismatic, iconoclastic artist will pioneer a new, socially-distanced live outdoor concert format in Sacramento. The performances will take place July 10 in the outdoor courtyard of the mixed-use Warehouse Artist Lofts, a low-income artists collective. Residents will be able to watch the concert for free from their windows overlooking the stage.
The concert will be presented in 3 short sets with arranged seating 10 feet apart, and an audience limited to 30 guests and 20% capacity per set. Masks will be mandatory; seats will be assigned and sanitized. There will be a temperature scan as audience members enter the outdoor performance space.
This socially-distanced event is the first live classical concert in the region since quarantine, and was spearheaded directly by Lara herself in an effort to revitalize the music scene in California's Capitol by offering this return to live performance as the region reopens, with meticulous social distance safety protocols in place. (She has been giving concerts from her open front window for small socially-distanced groups of neighbors throughout quarantine.) In her own words: "As our communities reopen, I see an important role for artists to contribute to our moment in history, to create gathering spaces that offer the essential emotional connection of live music, while reimagining and reinventing the physicality of those spaces to ensure social distance and public safety."
The event is a benefit to support the ACLU in the fight for civil rights and social justice during this critical moment in history.
Lara will share music from her newest album "Some Of These Days," a musical reflection on social justice, progress and equality that was recently featured as Top Album at NPR Music
and shared via Lara's stunning NPR Tiny Desk Concert (from home).
Lara will perform three 40-minute sets, at 7, 8 and 9pm.
The event is sponsored by Yamaha Artist Services.
In addition to this concert, Lara just announced her response to the current civil rights crisis. My Promise Project is a virtual creative campus for American youth, offering free workshops for American youth (age 12-18) to connect with their peers nationwide and create art that calls for change, progress and social justice. In partnership with Grammy Music
Education Coalition and the Sphinx Organization, Lara will hold these free workshops on Zoom beginning Monday, July 6 at 3PM Eastern Time and continuing weekly through August. Students' work will be shared via weekly Facebook Live showcases hosted by Lara. Registration: https://www.laradownes.com/my-promise-project
Using freedom songs such as "We Shall Overcome" and "Keep Your Eyes On The Prize" as creative prompts, Lara asks students to reflect and respond on their capacity to find strength in their individual and collective potential for change. Participants will create work in any performing/visual art medium they choose, producing a national anthology of youth voices envisioning futures built on awareness, intention, and action.
Praise for Some Of These Days: "This lyrical, evocative set un-starches the musical artifacts of African-American uplift. Downes approaches spirituals, hymns and legacy pieces with a passion grounded in the knowledge that history is personal: each interpretation deeply reckons with what made her" - NPR Music
/ Top Albums of April
"A remarkable piece of work" - All Music, 4.5 out of 5 stars
"This could be one of the year's most important recordings" - Glide Magazine
"If there were ever an album that captured in music the interconnected nature of the fight for justice across generations, it is Some of These Days" - Black