Lara Downes’ Love at Last & Seth Parker Woods’ Difficult Grace, April 2023

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Love at Last is a collection of solo works conceived by Downes to express a message of hope, community and perseverance — each piece a symbol of art’s ability to console and enlighten, emphasizing the connective possibilities of music.  The album features world premiere recordings of new compositions by Timo Andres, Clarice Assad, Juhi Bansal, Jimmy López Bellido, deVon Russell Gray, Sean Hickey, Vijay Iyer, Nyokabi Kariũki, Hooshyar Khayam, Patricio Molina, Iván Enrique Rodríguez, Dobrinka Tabakova, Calliope Tsoupaki, and Milad Yousufi. Works by Bach and Schubert are presented in previously unheard arrangements by Ignaz Friedman and August Horn; Sammy Fain’s American Songbook classic I’ll Be Seeing You gets an unexpected treatment from composer Mariel Mayz, and the traditional Amazing Grace is reinterpreted by Shawn E. Okpebholo. Gabriel Kahane contributes a new solo piano arrangement of his song Little Love, and Downes shares her own arrangement of Margaret Bonds’ I Believe: Credo, No. 2.
Downes is set to perform selections from the album at The Greene Space on April 20 in an evening of music and conversation dedicated to Earth Day.
Difficult Grace is Grammy Award-nominated cellist Seth Parker Woods’ recording of his multimedia concert tour, which features works written for and with him by Fredrick Gifford, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Monty Adkins, Nathalie Joachim, Alvin Singleton, and Ted Hearne. The album is a semi-autobiographical exploration of Woods’ identity; past/present histories and personal growth that draws inspiration from the Great Migration; excerpts from the historic newspaper, The Chicago Defender; immigration; and the poetry of Kemi Alabi and Dudley Randall.
The album’s first single, Ted Hearne’s A Wedding, or What We Unlearned from Descartes, is accompanied by a music video featuring footage from the world premiere performance of Difficult Grace at 92NY in November 2022, for which Woods was hailed by The New York Times as a “cellist of prodigious technical gifts and sharp intellect” and “an artist rooted in classical music, but whose cello is a vehicle that takes him, and his concertgoers, on wide-ranging journeys.”
Woods is set to perform the concert version of Difficult Grace at Chicago’s Harris Theater on Thursday, April 20, 2023 at 6 pm CT, and for the San Diego Symphony’s Currents Series on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 at 7:30 pm PT.
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