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eldest of the three musical daughters of a civil-rights attorney
mother and a Jamaican biochemist father, Ms. Downes began her piano
studies at age five at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. At
seven, she composed an opera based on the book Charlotte's Web, which
was performed in San Francisco. Home-schooled through high school, Ms.
Downes completed her advanced studies under Hans Graf at the Vienna
Hochschule and with Rudolf Buchbinder at the Music Academy in Basel.
She has received highest honors in the Claude Kahn, Palma d'Oro and
Artists International competitions.
Ms. Downes' busy solo and chamber career is strongly impacted by her
commitment to expanding and developing new audiences for the arts. She
dedicates time during her concert tours to elementary school
workshops, and has developed a wide network of community outreach
through the University of California at Davis. She is the co-founder
and artistic director of Arts Exchange, a project dedicated to
building creative partnerships between the visual and performing arts.
Ms. Downes has attracted attention as one of the most exciting and
communicative pianists of today's younger generation. She has been
cited by critics for her breathtaking virtuosity and penetrating,
sensitive accounts of classical and romantic repertoire. She has been
hailed as an artist worthy of placement in the highest rank of
classical performers. Since making noteworthy debuts at London's Queen
Elizabeth Hall, the Vienna Konzerthaus, and Carnegie Hall's Weill
Recital Hall, Ms. Downes performs regularly throughout Europe and the