Internationally Renowned Pianist Lara Downes to Perform at South Carolina Philharmonic’s American Rhapsody

The South Carolina Philharmonic is set to present “American Rhapsody” on February 24 at 7:30 pm at the Koger Center for the Arts. The program, featuring internationally acclaimed pianist Lara Downes, will showcase a blend of musical masterpieces, including Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and the South Carolina premiere of “A Lovesome Thing: Billy Strayhorn Suite” with the orchestra.

Program Highlights:

  1. Gottschalk’s Festa Criolla: The evening will commence with Louis Gottschalk’s “Festa Criolla” from “A Night in the Tropics,” featuring the Dreher High School Steel Pan Band.

  2. Margaret Bond’s Montgomery Variations: The program includes a performance of Margaret Bond’s “Montgomery Variations.”

  3. A Lovesome Thing: Billy Strayhorn Suite: Lara Downes will be the focal point of the performance, presenting the SC premiere of “A Lovesome Thing: Billy Strayhorn Suite.” The suite, arranged by Chris Walden, celebrates Strayhorn’s expressive compositions, including “A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing,” “Strange Feeling,” and “Something To Live For.”

  4. Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue: The iconic Jazz Age composition by George Gershwin, “Rhapsody in Blue,” will close the program. Notably, 2024 marks the 100th anniversary of this musical masterpiece.

About Lara Downes: Lara Downes, honored as the 2022 Classical Woman of the Year by NPR’s Performance Today, is a renowned American pianist recognized for her dynamic contributions to classical music. Beyond her accomplishments as a soloist and Billboard Chart-topping recording artist, Downes is celebrated for her role as the creator and host of “AMPLIFY with Lara Downes,” an NPR Music series that engages in personal video conversations with influential Black artists and cultural leaders.

Event Details:

  • Date and Time: February 24, 2024, at 7:30 pm
  • Venue: Koger Center for the Arts
  • Ticket Information: Tickets for in-person attendance or livestreaming can be purchased at or by calling 803-251-2222.


  • “American Rhapsody” is sponsored by Baker Commercial Properties, LLC.
  • Lara Downes is sponsored by Dr. Helmut & Gillian Albrecht and Rick & Debbie Cohn.
  • The program receives support from the City of Columbia H-Tax Grant Program, the Richland County H-Tax Grant Program, and the South Carolina Arts Commission.

Don’t miss this extraordinary musical event that brings together the brilliance of Lara Downes and the South Carolina Philharmonic in a celebration of American music.