Pianist Lara Downes' new album America Again premiered today on NPR Music First Listen. Listen to the album and read the article here.
The album will be released worldwide on Sono Luminus on October 28, 2016. The album’s title is taken from Langston Hughes’ poem, Let America Be America Again, written in 1938. America Again explores music that expresses different facets of the American dream – its hope, its impossibility, and its necessity. Downes selected nineteen pieces for the album, written by composers including Duke Ellington, Lou Harrison, Morton Gould, Amy Beach, George Gershwin, Angélica Negrón, Dan Visconti, Leonard Bernstein, Scott Joplin, Irving Berlin, Florence Price, Aaron Copland, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and more.
Lara Downes conceived of the album in June 2015, in response to the Charleston, SC shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and recorded the nineteen works in March 2016 at Sono Luminus’ studio in Boyce, VA. Downes writes of the meaning in the album, “Today, as I write these words, we are living again in troubled times. For too many Americans, circumstance and skin color still keep the promise out of reach, the dream deferred. The hard-won rights and long-sought justice for which our parents and grandparents fought are too easily slipping away. The rifts and rivalries that divide us as a nation seem to run deeper than ever. But still, we dreamers keep dreaming our dream. This music is a tribute to the generations of Americans who dream the impossible: black and white, men and women, immigrants and pioneers. It tells the story of their journeys, their loves and longings, their hardships and their hopes. American music is made of everything we are, coming from so many different people and places, expressing so many different dreams.”
Find the album on Amazon, iTunes, and Spotify.
1. Morton Gould: American Caprice
2. Lou Harrison: New York Waltzes
3. Traditional: Shenandoah
4. Amy Beach: From Blackbird Hills
5. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Deep River
6. Dan Visconti: Lonesome Roads
7. Ernest Bloch: At Sea
8. George Gershwin: I Loves you Porgy (arr. Nina Simone)
9. Angélica Negrón: Sueno Recurrente
10. Leonard Bernstein: Anniversary for Stephen Sondheim
11. David Sanford: Promise
12. Howard Hanson: Slumber Song
13. Scott Joplin: Gladiolus Rag
14. Irving Berlin: Blue Skies (arr. Art Tatum)
15. Florence Price: Fantasie Negre
16. Aaron Copland: Sentimental Melody
17. Duke Ellington: Melancholia
18. Roy Harris: Li'l Boy Named David
19. Harold Arlen: Over the Rainbow