Lara Downes has attracted attention as one of the most exciting and communicative young pianists of today's generation, cited by critics for her "breathtaking virtuosity" and called “a most delightful artist, with a unique blend of musicianship and showmanship” by National Public Radio. Since making noteworthy debuts in 1988 at both the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London and at the Vienna Konzerthaus as soloist with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Ms. Downes has performed throughout Europe and the United States, making her New York debut at Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall in 1995. Recent appearances have included recitals from the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts to the Festival International de Musica in Costa Rica. Highlights of the 2000-2001 season included performances at the Edgewise Festival in California with the Kronos Quartet and Philip Glass, the world premiere of a new solo concert work by legendary jazz composer Benny Golson at New York’s Lincoln Center, and a featured appearance on National Public Radio’s Performance Today.
Ms. Downes’ busy solo and chamber career is strongly impacted by her commitment to expanding and developing new audiences for the arts. She has developed a wide network of community outreach through the University of California at Davis, where she is currently Artist In Residence. She is the co-founder and artistic director of Arts Exchange, a project dedicated to building creative partnerships between the visual and performing arts.
Ms. Downes was born in San Francisco, where she began her piano studies at age five at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She pursued her advanced studies in Europe at the Hochschule for Music in Vienna with Hans Graf and in the Concert Class of Rudolf Buchbinder at the Music Academy in Basel, and with John Perry and Lilian Kallir in the United States.
Ms. Downes is a Steinway Artist.