With 2018 marking 100 years since Leonard Bernstein's birth, many recording projects and concerts honor his legacy, including the intimate For Lenny from pianist Lara Downes.
"We're living in a time when there's so much division and there's so much disconnect and I think people feel very isolated from each other and very confused about where our common ground is anymore," says Downes. "My experiece is that we can still find that through American music."
For Lenny conveys Bernstein's continued relevance, and explores the way his legacy is ingrained in the American identity.
She underscores this point with help from a diverse group of musicians including roots singer Rhiannon Giddens, beatboxer Kevin "K.O." Olusola, opera legend Thomas Hampson and more. The album centers around Bernstein's uncharacteristically intimate Anniversaries for piano and includes some of his other boundary-pushing pieces as well as new works that Downes commissioned.
"Bernstein laid the ground for people like me to walk upon," she says. "The family of American musicians have come together to make this kind of a tribute possible."