Celebrate Earth Day with a weekend of chamber music and a new collaboration between iconoclastic pianist Lara Downes and the Miró Quartet, one of America’s most celebrated chamber ensembles.
Presented in partnership with the Skidmore College Department of Music, Lara Downes and the Miró Quartet will teach, coach, and perform alongside Skidmore students as part of the annual String Festival, culminating in a free public concert on Saturday, April 20th. The evening’s program will include two works performed by the Miró and Lara Downes side-by-side with festival participants as well as chamber pieces that the students have studied and coached with Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect and the Sphinx Virtuosi.
The weekend continues on Sunday, April 21 at 3:00pm at the Spa Little Theater with Lara Downes and Miro Quartet performing Here On Earth in concert. Developed in partnership with the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), Here On Earth features musical depictions of our planet earth, its evolution, and the lives of its inhabitants, expressed through music that spans centuries, from Haydn’s Sunrise Quartet to Darius Milhaud’s La Création du Monde (composed in 1923) and Clarice Assad’s A World Of Change, newly commissioned in 2023. Traveling through time and space, the program telescopes in to celebrate the beauties of the natural world, and explore our always-changing relationship to this changing earth that is our home.
|String Quartet No. 63 “Sunrise”
|My Lord, What A Morning
|String Quartet No. 8
|Under the Stars
|La Création du Monde
|What a Wonderful World
*program subject to change
Lara Downes | piano
Daniel Ching | violin
William Fedkenheuer | violin
John Largess | viola
Joshua Gindele | cello
Honored as 2022 Classical Woman of the Year by Performance Today, American pianist (and NY Times crossword clue) Lara Downes has been called “a musical ray of hope” by NBC News and “an explorer whose imagination is fired by bringing notice to the underrepresented and forgotten” (The Log Journal). An iconoclast and trailblazer, her dynamic work as a sought-after soloist, a Billboard Chart-topping recording artist, a producer, curator, arts activist and advocate positions her as a cultural visionary on the national arts scene. Lara’s musical roadmap seeks inspiration from the legacies of history, family, and collective memory, excavating a broad landscape of music to create a series of acclaimed performance and recording projects that serve as gathering spaces for her listeners to find common ground and shared experience.
Lara’s recent and upcoming onstage adventures include guest appearances with The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Boston Pops, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, with recitals and residencies at Lincoln Center, Disney Hall, Ravinia, the Gilmore Festival, Carolina Performing Arts, Washington Performing Arts, Caramoor, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Cabrillo Festival, and Oregon Bach Festival, among others.
Lara enjoys creative collaborations with an eclectic range of artists including folk icon Judy Collins, pianist Simone Dinnerstein, musical multi-hyphenate Rhiannon Giddens, former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, author John McWhorter, Broadway legend Brian Stokes Mitchell, baritone Thomas Hampson, and violinist Daniel Hope. Her close partnerships with prominent composers span genres and generations, with premieres and commissions coming from Adolphus Hailstork, Jennifer Higdon, Billy Childs, Paola Prestini, Arturo O’Farrill, Gerald Clayton, Jimmy Lopez-Bellido, Teddy Abrams, Clarice Assad, and many others.
The Miró Quartet is one of America’s most celebrated and dedicated string quartets, having been labeled by The New Yorker as “furiously committed” and noted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer for its “exceptional tonal focus and interpretive intensity.” For over twenty-five years the Quartet has performed throughout the world on the most prestigious concert stages, earning accolades from critics and audiences alike. Based in Austin, TX, and thriving on the area’s storied music scene, the Miró takes pride in finding new ways to communicate with audiences of all backgrounds while cultivating the longstanding tradition of chamber music. In their 2023-24 season, the Miró Quartet embarks on a new performance and recording project with pianist Lara Downes. Here on Earth features musical depictions of planet earth, its evolution, and the lives of its inhabitants, with works spanning a century of cultural shift that begins with Darius Milhaud’s La Création du Monde, performed in a new arrangement for piano and string quartet. Upcoming performances include the premiere of a new version of Kevin Puts’ Credo with the Naples Philharmonic, as well as performances for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, the Saratoga Perfoming Arts Center, and Premiere Performances in Hong Kong.