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Lara Downes will bring her next Artist Sessions event to Center for New Music

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The Artist Sessions, the concert series that pianist Lara Downes launched last April, will be heading to the Center for New Music (CNM) for its next event. Actually, it is a bit limiting to call these events a “concert series,” since each one augments performances involving guest artists with on-stage conversation hosted by Downes and an opportunity for members of the audience to ask questions. For the next of these events, the artists will include both a composer and those who have performed his music.

The composer is Mohammed Fairouz, whose album of world premiere recordings, Native Informant, was released by Naxos in its American Classics series almost a year ago. Two of his recent works will be receiving their West Coast premieres. The Del Sol String Quartet will appear as Downes’ guests to perform “The Named Angels,” a work that invokes the mythology of angels in the different folk cultures of the Middle East, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. This will also be a “preview performance” of the recording of this quartet, which is currently planned for release in 2015. Downes herself will then perform Fairouz’ second piano sonata, to which he has given the title “The Last Resistance.” He has used this sonata to capture, in music, both portraits and prophecies of the post-9/11 world. While on the West Coast, Fairouz will be spending a week at the Mondavi Center as Composer-in-Residence. The Mondavi Center Young Artists Competition commissioned three new pieces in his Piano Miniatures series, and Downes is planning to record the complete set in 2015.

This Artist Sessions event will take place at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, February 25, at CNM, located at 55 Taylor Street, about half a block north of the corner of Market Street. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m. General admission is $30 with a $25 rate for CNM members and a $15 rate for students. Tickets may be purchased online through an event page on Brown Paper Tickets.

The following month The Artists Sessions will move to the Recital Hall of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM). On this occasion the featured artist will be pianist Anthony de Mare, one of the leading champions of contemporary music. The program will feature compositions from his recent commissioning and concert project, LIAISONS: Re-Imagining Sondheim from the Piano. As the title suggests, de Mare commissioned 36 composers to “re-imagine” a song by Stephen Sondheim as a piano solo. The composers come from seven countries, range in age from 32 to 76, and work in the genres of classical, pop, jazz, opera, musical theater, and film.

This Artist Sessions event will also take place at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, this time March 25, in the SFCM Recital Hall at 50 Oak Street, a short walk from the Van Ness Muni station. Doors will again open at 7:30 p.m. General admission is $40 with a $20 rate for students. Tickets may again be purchased online through an event page on Brown Paper Tickets.

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