Pianist Lara Downes Celebrates Leonard Bernstein With New Album and Concert | Playbill

Classic Arts News Pianist Lara Downes Celebrates Leonard Bernstein With New Album and Concert Downes' new recording, honoring the late composer during his centennial, will feature guest stars from the opera world.

A handful of opera stars and other guest artists will join pianist Lara Downes for a night of music in honor of the Leonard Bernstein centennial. The January 21 concert, titled Songs for Lenny, will be webcast live from The Greene Space at WQXR beginning at 7PM.

Opera stars Thomas Hampson, Ailyn Pérez, and J’Nai Bridges, as well as composer and vocalist Theo Bleckmann, will each perform a personal favorite song from the Bernstein repertoire. Watch the exclusive video above to see the American baritone and Downes perform "A Simple Song" from Bernstein’s Mass.

The concert is inspired by Downes’ upcoming tribute album, For Lenny, released February 9 on Sony Classical. The recording centers around Bernstein’s Anniversaries for Piano, musical portraits he composed for his family and friends; it also features works dedicated to Bernstein by American composers including Stephen Sondheim, John Corigliano, Stephen Schwartz, and Ned Rorem.

Downes’ recording features a roster of guest artists from across different genres, including Hampson, Rhiannon Giddens, and beatboxer Kevin “K.O.” Olusola (a member of Pentatonix).The pianist will celebrate the album launch February 7 with a concert at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, with special guests Giddens and Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker.

“Just imagine what American music was before Lenny came along, everything he changed,” says Downes. “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.

To stream the concert live, visit WQXR.org January 21 at 7 PM.


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