Pianist Lara Downes Releases New Album 'Holes in the Sky'

Pianist Lara Downes. Photo credit: Jiyang Chen

Pianist Lara Downes. Photo credit: Jiyang Chen

“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.” — Georgia O'Keeffe

American pianist Lara Downes has recently released her new album, Holes in the Sky, a multi-genre collection of music celebrating the contributions of women to the past, present, and future of American music.

The album is available on Portrait, an imprint of the Sony Music Masterworks label and is available for listening on a variety of streaming services. Holes in the Sky is written and performed by today's leading female artists, including the track “Albatross,” written and sung by singer-songwriter Judy Collins.

Smoldering ... inherently yearning ... Downes' keen music choices and her thoughtful performances evoke a brilliantly curated art exhibit. — NPR

The music of Holes in the Sky is reflective of a Georgia O’Keeffe poem, and aims to show what the ambitions of women and girls can do when allowed to thrive- that their dreams can make holes in the sky. Lara was inspired by these words and gathered an extraordinary group of women spanning generations to collaborate together on this album. Guest artists include singer/songwriter Judy Collins, violinist Rachel Barton Pine, pianist Simone Dinnerstein, cellist Ifetayo Ali-Landing, and the urban youth vocal ensemble Musicality.

A charming selection of pieces by some powerful composers — a celebration of otherness, as well as an act of repatriation. — Washington Post

This premiere is followed by a national concert tour. The album and tour are presented in direct support of PLAN International Because I Am A Girl, which bolsters the rights and empowerment of girls and young women around the globe; Women’s Empowerment in Sacramento, a group aiming to end 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, focused on teaching life skills to women and girls through entertaining and engaging lessons that celebrate the joy of movement; and the Lower East Side Girls Club, which is breaking the cycle of poverty by providing training to the next generation of ethical, entrepreneurial, and environmental leaders.

Reflections

Lara Downes has reflected on this album, saying that when interviewers ask about being a woman in music, she responds in admiration for the women who came before her to guide the way by being “ahead of their time.” These women were creatively courageous, and paved the way for women like Lara to produce their own inspirational music.

With this album, Lara sought to combine her home in womanhood with the world of music she had come to love as she learned about the hidden women of music history. “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 ...”

Finding kinship with other women, especially through music, inspired the collaboration on this album. The history that joins women together encourages them to move forward and rise together.

About The Artist

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.

Listen to the album “Holes in the Sky” by Lara Downes on Apple Music, Spotify, and more.

—Darby Swab