The Boston Pops, pianist Lara Downes, and conductor Keith Lockhart give the world premiere of A Lovesome Thing: Billy Strayhorn Suite, June 2022 at Boston’s Symphony Hall. Photo: Aram Bogosian

“ ‘The stories of Black artists are about hopes and inspirations,’ says pianist Lara Downes, who performs as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra on Thursday, August 4 at Saratoga Performing Arts Center,” writes Joseph Dalton in Sunday’s (7/31) Times Union (Albany, NY). “Downes gave that insight while discussing the two 20th century composers whose music she’ll be playing … a new three-movement suite to songs of Billy Strayhorn [A Lovesome Thing: Billy Strayhorn Suite] followed by the Piano Concerto of Florence Price. William Eddins conducts the program, which concludes with the Brahms Second Symphony…. Strayhorn died in 1967 at age 51…. Strayhorn is best known as the quiet sidekick and often uncredited collaborator to the larger-than-life Duke Ellington … while sometimes neglecting his own broader ambitions…. A Lovesome Thing: Billy Strayhorn Suite for piano and orchestra, commissioned by SPAC … is built on three of the composer’s most expressive and popular songs: ‘A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing,’ ‘Strange Feeling,’ and ‘Something to Live For.’ Downes premiered it with conductor Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops last month … in Boston…. ‘I look for mavericks and innovators in our music, and try to keep it beautiful, vibrant and interesting,’ Downes says.”