Lara Downes (left) with piano, and Rita Dove (right) on a balcony.
CPA Series

Lara Downes, featuring Rita Dove

Tomorrow I May Be Far Away
February 3, 2024
8 PM

Tickets from $41.93. Discounts available. See details below.

Pianist Lara Downes has been praised by the New York Times for her “luscious, moody, and dreamy” playing. But she’s more than a musical innovator—she’s also a cultural explorer.

In Tomorrow I May Be Far Away, Downes joins forces with Pulitzer-winning poet Rita Dove to create a spellbinding mix of music and poetry. Together, they examine myriad stories of migration and transformation.

This extraordinary program features poems written and performed by Dove, as well as music from a diverse array of composers, including Duke Ellington, Shawn Okpebholo, Angelica Negrón, Florence Price, Carlos Simon, Billy Taylor, William Grant Still, and Kurt Weill.


Tickets are available for $41.93. $10 UNC-Chapel Hill student tickets available with valid UNC One Card. Additional discounts available. Limits apply. Visit our FAQ page for details.


  • Runtime: TBD
  • Intermission: TBD
  • Additional information: Visit our FAQ page


    Director: Mindy Cooper

    Projection Designer: Ian Wallace


    Honored as 2022 Classical Woman of the Year by Performance Today, American pianist Lara Downes has been called “a musical ray of hope” by NBC News and “an explorer whose imagination is fired by bringing notice to the underrepresented and forgotten” (The Log Journal). An iconoclast and trailblazer, her dynamic work as a sought-after soloist, a Billboard Chart-topping recording artist, a producer, curator, arts activist and advocate positions her as a cultural visionary on the national arts scene. Lara’s musical roadmap seeks inspiration from the legacies of history, family, and collective memory, excavating a broad landscape of music to create a series of acclaimed performance and recording projects that serve as gathering spaces for her listeners to find common ground and shared experience.

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    Lara’s recent and upcoming onstage adventures include guest appearances with The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Boston Pops, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, with recitals and residencies at Ravinia, the Gilmore Festival, Carolina Performing Arts, Washington Performing Arts, Caramoor, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Cabrillo Festival, and Oregon Bach Festival, among others.

    Lara enjoys creative collaborations with an eclectic range of artists including folk icon Judy Collins, pianist Simone Dinnerstein, musical multi-hyphenate Rhiannon Giddens, former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, author John McWhorter, Broadway legend Brian Stokes Mitchell, baritone Thomas Hampson, and violinist Daniel Hope. Her close partnerships with prominent composers span genres and generations, with premieres and commissions coming from Adolphus Hailstork, Jennifer Higdon, Billy Childs, Paola Prestini, Arturo O’Farrill, Gerald Clayton, Jimmy Lopez-Bellido, Teddy Abrams, Clarice Assad, and many others.

    Lara’s adventurous approach to concept and curation have created a unique series of acclaimed recordings, including her 2023 release Love at Last on the Pentatone label, which reached #1 on the Billboard Classical Chart and was featured as an NPR Tiny Desk Concert. In 2022, Reflections: Scott Joplin Reconsidered, also reached the top of the Billboard chart and was featured in the New York Times and on NPR’s Morning Edition.

    Other recent albums include Florence Price: Piano Discoveries, a world-premiere recording of recently discovered piano works by that groundbreaking composer; and Some of These Days, a collection of freedom songs and spirituals reflecting on social justice, progress and equality. In 2019 For Love Of You marked Lara’s concerto recording debut, celebrating the 200th birthday of the great pianist and composer Clara Schumann. In 2017, her Sony Classical release For Lenny was awarded the Classical Recording Foundation Award, and America Again was selected by NPR as one of “10 Albums that Saved 2016.”

    Lara is a highly visible media presence in her role as the creator and host of AMPLIFY with Lara Downes, an NPR Music series now in its third season, featuring intimate, profoundly personal video conversations with visionary Black artists and cultural leaders who are shaping our creative present and future. She is a frequent guest on national programs including NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, City Lights and Performance Today, and she serves as Resident Artist for Classical KDFC in San Francisco and Classical KUSC in Los Angeles. Her work has been supported by the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sphinx Venture Fund, and the Center for Cultural Innovation, among others.

    Lara is the creator and curator of Rising Sun Music, a recording series that shines light on the music and stories of Black composers over the past 200 years, featuring her collaborations with a wide range of leading instrumentalists and vocalists, including Davóne Tines, Will Liverman, Nicole Cabell and Regina Carter.

    Lara’s fierce commitment to activism and advocacy brings her working with organizations including the ACLU, Feeding America, and Headcount, a non-partisan organization that uses the power of music to register voters and promote participation in democracy.


    Rita Dove (b. 1952) received the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for her third poetry collection, Thomas and Beulah, and served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 1993–1995. She is the author of a novel, a book of short stories, essays, and numerous volumes of poetry, most recently Sonata Mulattica (2009), Collected Poems 1974-2004 (2016) and Playlist for the Apocalypse (2021).

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    Her drama The Darker Face of the Earth opened at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1996 and the Kennedy Center in Washington in 1997, followed by its 1999 European début at the Royal National Theatre in London. Seven for Luck, a song cycle with music by John Williams, premiered in 1998, and her 2021 song cycle A Standing Witness, 14 poems with music by Richard Danielpour, was performed by Susan Graham at Tanglewood, the Kennedy Center, and other venues.

    The editor of TheBest American Poetry 2000 and The Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry (2011), she also served as poetry columnist for The Washington Post and poetry editor for The New York Times Magazine. 

    Dove’s most recent accolades include the 2019 Wallace Stevens Award; the American Academy of Arts & Letters’ 2021 Gold Medal in poetry (as the third woman and first African American in the over 110-year history of the Academy’s highest honor); the 2022 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation; and the Bobbitt Prize for lifetime achievement from the Library of Congress. She is the recipient of a National Humanities Medal from President Clinton and a National Medal of Arts from President Obama, making her the only poet ever to receive both.

    To date, 29 honorary doctorates have been bestowed upon Rita Dove. She teaches at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she is the Henry Hoyns Professor of Creative Writing.


    All images of Rita Dove provided by Fred Viebahn.

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