American pianist Lara Downes has released her new album, Holes in the Sky, on Portrait, an imprint of the Sony Music Masterworks label.
Holes in the Sky is a genre-fluid collection of music written and performed by today's leading female artists, celebrating the contributions of phenomenal women to the past, present, and future of American music.
The music of Holes in the Sky tells the story of what women and girls can contribute to the world when they are given a chance - their dreams can make holes in the sky. Lara collaborates with an extraordinary multi-generational group of female guest artists on this album, including the iconic singer / songwriter Judy Collins, boundary-breaking violinist Rachel Barton Pine, pianist Simone Dinnerstein, fast-rising cellist Ifetayo Ali-Landing, and the urban youth vocal ensemble Musicality.
The album is presented in direct support of PLAN International Because I Am A Girl, bolstering the rights and empowerment of girls and young women around the globe; Women's Empowerment in Sacramento, ending homelessness one woman - and one family - at a time; the Downtown Women's Center in Los Angeles, a permanent and supportive housing and healthcare provider for women; Girls on the Run in Spokane, teaching life skills through fun, engaging lessons that celebrate the joy of movement; and the Lower East Side Girls Club, breaking the cycle of poverty by training the next generation of ethical, entrepreneurial, and environmental leaders.
Reflections on Holes in the Sky from Lara Downes...
"Sometimes interviewers ask me about being a woman in music - where I find inspiration, and where I face challenges. And my answer, always, is that I'm guided and inspired by the women before me – the ones who were ahead of their time in the courage of their creativity, who paved the way for me to take my own musical journey ...
A few years ago, this quote from Georgia O'Keeffe got stuck in my head and my heart: "I want real things - live people to take hold of - to see - and talk to - music that makes holes in the sky - I want to love as hard as I can."
The world of women has always been my home. But the world of my music, of my piano teachers and the Great Pianists and Great Composers, with their stern, bearded portraits, their hundreds of sonatas and etudes that took up the hours of my days – that was a world of men and I felt not quite at home.
I went looking for the women ... I discovered the women who lived in the margins and footnotes of my music history books. They were so few, in comparison ... To rise up from the weight of petticoats and ladylike behavior, tyrannical fathers, overshadowing husbands, unchecked offspring – they were heroic, these women. They were giants ...
When I make music with other women, I feel a kinship, a common history that brought us here. We have freedoms beyond any of our ancestors – even the mothers who raised us. We have very little, in the scope of things, to hold us down. But still, I think, we feel the weight of the past. Still we rise ...
It feels like such a privilege to pay tribute to the women who preceded us, the pioneers ahead of their time. The ones who dared to want real things, to reach into the sky. Their courage is the ground we walk on. And it feels like a celebration of our own freedom - hard won, still gaining - to make beauty in the world, to take risks and move out ahead of our own time, with the courage that is our legacy - the courage to reach for real things, to dream as big as we can, and to share this music that makes holes in the sky."
Lara Downes is among the foremost American pianists of her generation, an iconoclast dedicated to expanding the resonance and relevance of live music for diverse audiences.A trailblazer on and off-stage, she follows a musical roadmap that seeks inspiration from the legacies of history, family, and collective memory.
Downes' playing has been called "ravishing" by Fanfare Magazine, "luscious, moody and dreamy" by The New York Times, and "addicting" by The Huffington Post. As a chart-topping recording artist, a powerfully charismatic performer, a curator and taste-maker, Downes is recognized as a cultural visionary on the national arts scene.
Lara's forays into the broad landscape of American music have created a series of acclaimed recordings, including America Again, selected by NPR as one of "10 Albums that Saved 2016", and hailed as "a balm for a country riven by disunion" by the Boston Globe. Her recent Sony Classical debut release For Lenny debuted in the Billboard Top 20 and was awarded the 2017 Classical Recording Foundation Award.