Being an American comes with countless benefits, of course, but sometimes the American social landscape can be a challenge to engage, wouldn’t you say? There have been many people who’ve engaged those challenges through their artistry over the years, and that American tradition continues today in the world of piano music. Hi, I’m Loki Karuna, and on this edition of Noteworthy let’s return to a traditional American favorite, as reimagined by one of today’s leading pianists – the incomparable Lara Downes.

Born in San Francisco, Lara Downes is a pianist who is actually far more than just a pianist. From hosting radio programs to being a key figure within arts activism and advocacy circles, Lara has dedicated her career not only to highlighting historically marginalized American composers, but also helping audiences think again about what it means to be an American, and how we can celebrate that through the music that defines us. This arrangement of Shenandoah by Lara Downes is one of many examples of how she does that, reminding us all of the beauty that lives within the American tradition.

In addition to her arrangement of Shenandoah, Lara has reimagined spirituals, American folk tunes, and even Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue! Her musical and social impact will be felt for generations to come, earning her a spot among today’s most Noteworthy.

Noteworthy is a production of WDAV classical public radio.