Bay Area’s Classical KDFC Radio names renowned pianist, storyteller and arts advocate Lara Downes as evening radio host & resident artist

February 24, 2021

Contact: USC Media Relations,, or (213) 740-2215

Classical KDFC is excited to announce that Billboard Chart-topping pianist and cultural visionary Lara Downes is joining the station’s team.  Downes, a California native who has forged a path as a storyteller, thought leader and performer, will bring her unique perspective and vast musical knowledge to KDFC as Host and Resident Artist.

Beginning Monday, March 8 at 8 pm PT, Downes will host “Evening Music with Lara Downes,” a nightly program featuring classical music spanning centuries and styles, specially chosen and explored to reveal unique insights and context. Additionally, as the station’s first ever Resident Artist, Ms. Downes will curate and create new digital content that will engage the California community and give KDFC listeners a more in-depth look at the creativity and history that has shaped our musical lives.

Says KDFC President Bill Lueth, “Lara is one of America’s great classical music curators.  She seeks out classical music gems from our past and present and ensures they are heard.  We are thrilled to have Lara share meaningful stories with our listeners about the classical music she loves with passion, curiosity and joy.  Her love of music and storytelling is infectious.”

Downes’ influence extends across the U.S. and beyond.  She is a prolific concert and recording artist, and the creator and curator of the newly launched “Rising Sun Music” series, where she explores the music of Black American composers spanning nearly 200 years.  She is also the creator and host of “Amplify with Lara Downes,” a video series showcasing the perspectives of Black musicians and artists of our time, in partnership with NPR Music.

Of her new role as KDFC Host and Resident Artist, Downes says “Northern California is my home, and I grew up listening to KDFC.  The station played a tremendous role in shaping who I am today, as a musician and human.  I want to pay that forward, and make my contribution in spreading the joy and love of classical music; sharing stories that I hope will intrigue both classical music aficionados and those newly discovering the genre.  I believe that music builds community, that it’s a gathering space for us to come together in shared experience and understanding. That’s a magical thing!”

Lara’s presence at Classical KDFC will offer listeners new, exciting moments of discovery where they will hear her on air as evening host, as well as at sister station KUSC in Los Angeles where she will be a vibrant creative force in digital productions.

About Lara Downes

Pianist Lara Downes’s dynamic work as an iconoclast and trailblazer, is a sought-after performer, a Billboard Chart-topping recording artist, a producer, curator, activist and arts advocate positions her as a cultural visionary on the national arts scene.  Downes’ artistry has been called “a musical ray of hope” by NBC News, “luscious, moody and dreamy” by The New York Times, and “addicting” by The Huffington Post.  She is equally at home on major stages including the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Boston Symphony Hall, the Ravinia Festival, Tanglewood, and Washington Performing Arts, and clubs and intimate venues including Joe’s Pub, National Sawdust, Yoshi’s, and Le Poisson Rouge.  Ms. Downes is the creator and curator of the Rising Sun Music series, and host of the NPR Music video interview series AMPLIFY with Lara Downes.  She serves as the inaugural Artist Citizen in Residence for the Manhattan School of Music, as well as a Fellow of the Loghaven Artist Residency.  Her work has been supported by the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sphinx Organization, the Classical Recording Foundation Award, the University of California Innovator of the Year Award, and the Center for Cultural Innovation, among others.  Ms. Downes’ fierce commitment to activism and advocacy see her working with organizations including the ACLU, Feeding America, the Lower Eastside Girls Club, the Sphinx Organization, and Watts Learning Center.  She is an Artist Ambassador for Headcount, a non-partisan organization that uses the power of music to register voters and promote participation in democracy.

About Classical KDFC

KDFC is the Bay area’s only classical music radio service.  It is part of the University of Southern California Radio Group, a network of 10 stations in Northern and Southern California, including sister station KUSC based in Los Angeles.  Classical KDFC radio nurtures a love of classical music, inspiring people to make it an enduring part of their lives.  The station curates beautiful music, creates compelling experiences and welcomes all on the journey.  Listeners can tune in on 90.3FM in San Francisco and Oakland,89.9FM in Napa and the wine country, 104.9FM in San Jose and Silicon Valley, 103.9FM in Monterey/Carmel, and 102.5FM in Ukiah.  The website,, mobile app and social media offerings attract local listeners and others from around the globe.

Image: Max Barrett