by John Tarpley
7:30 p.m., St. Mark's Episcopal Church. $25 general, $10 students
For nearly 60 years, the Chamber Music Society of Little Rock has provided a huge service to Little Rock's arts community, taking over St. Mark's Episcopal Church to provide four annual concerts from celebrated names of the classical community. This show marks the only concert performed with a soloist during their 2010-2011 season. A member of the prestigious Steinway Artist society, Lara Downes has performed in a dizzyingly impressive list of venues: Queen Elizabeth Hall London, the Vienna Konzerthaus, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy and Lincoln Centers, to name a few. NPR flipped over Downes after her appearance on "Performance Today" and lists upon lists of boutique magazines dedicated to classical music have compared her unique interpretive skills and an expressive, lucid technique with everything from Rachmaninov to Philip Glass.
Thursday sees Downes tipping her hat to Arkansas with a special performance of "Fantasie Negre" by Florence Price, the Little Rock-born classicist, remembered as the first black woman to be widely recognized and accepted as a true symphonic composer by her white, male peers.
Take a look: George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" (live at University of Vermont, 2009)