Lara Downes, Britton-René Collins & Clarice Assad: World Of Change

Lara Downes, Britton-René Collins & Clarice Assad

World Of Change
Sunday, April 10, 2022 . 3PM
Photos Courtesy of the Artists

Event Attributes

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For more information regarding accessible accommodations, please click here.

Estimated Length: 
This performance will last approximately 1 hour 15 minutes.

Pianist Lara Downes, percussionist Britton-René Collins and composer and multi-instrumentalist Clarice Assad present World of Change, a concert considering the changing climate and the acceleration of our device-intensive existence. In this musical exploration, the performers take a step back from political and international turmoil to consider the wider landscape of our world and to pose self-reflective questions about how we interact with it.

Acclaimed pianist Lara Downes has been called “an explorer whose imagination is fired by bringing notice to the underrepresented and forgotten” (The Log Journal). An iconoclast and trailblazer, her dynamic work as a sought-after soloist, a Billboard Chart-topping recording artist, a curator, activist and arts advocate positions her as a cultural visionary on the national arts scene. She recently collaborated with Assad, a Grammy-nominated composer, pianist, vocalist and educator. A member of a Brazilian musical dynasty who has become one of the Western Hemisphere’s most versatile talents, Assad has garnered a reputation as a bold singer, captivating pianist, radiant classical guitarist and exploratory composer throughout her career as a prominent voice in the classical, world music, pop and jazz genres. Percussionist Collins has dedicated her artistry to shaping an equitable community for all musicians to thrive in.

The Clarice's Visiting Artist Series is committed to providing extensive campus and community engagement opportunities that extend academic learning and cultural opportunities. As part of their residency, Assad will hold a Composer Colloquium with University of Maryland School of Music student composers and Downes will lead a masterclass with the Collaborative Piano Studio. The duo will also present a Concert in the Quad in partnership with the Arts Scholars program, take part in the School of Music’s Renegade series, lead a percussion masterclass and participate in a pre-concert talk.


  • Valentin Sylvestrov: Pastoral
  • Scott Joplin: Solace
  • Teddy Abrams: Gymnopedie
  • Carlos Simon: Like Moons and Like Suns
  • Karen Tanaka: Our Planet Earth
  • Sean Hickey: Fluid 
  • Michael Shapiro: Tending
  • Nkeiru Okoye: When Young Spring Comes
  • Gabriel Kahane: Little Love
  • Terry Riley: Be Kind to One Another
  • Clarice Assad: World of Change

This piece is co-commissioned by The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at UC Davis.

This event is part of Arts for All, a campuswide initiative which leverages the combined power of the arts, technology and social justice to address the grand challenges of our time.

*Program is subject to change

The Clarice lobby concession bar Encore will be open for food and beverage sales during this event.

Health + Safety

Patrons attending University of Maryland arts events are no longer required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. We continue to encourage audiences to wear a mask and stay current with vaccinations and boosters. Please see our Health & Safety information page for information about what to expect during your visit.


The Clarice is committed to creating extensive opportunities for our campus and community to engage with Visiting Artists throughout the season. During their time at UMD, Lara Downes, Britton-René Collins and Clarice Assad will have engaged in:

  • A pre-concert talk with students and audience members

  • A masterclass with the UMD School of Music collaborative piano studio 

  • A Composer Colloquium with UMD School of Music students

  • A masterclass with the UMD School of Music percussion students 

  • A presentation as part of UMD School of Music’s Renegade series



Pianist Lara Downes has been called “an explorer whose imagination is fired by bringing notice to the underrepresented and forgotten” (The Log Journal). An iconoclast and trailblazer, her dynamic work as 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. Ms. Downes’ musical roadmap seeks inspiration from the legacies of history, family and collective memory, excavating the broad landscape of American music to create a series of acclaimed performance and recording projects that serve as gathering spaces for her listeners to find common ground and shared experience.

Ms. 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 in clubs and intimate venues including Joe’s Pub, National Sawdust, Yoshi’s and Le Poisson Rouge. 

Lara Downes’ forays into the broad landscape of American music have created a series of acclaimed recordings, including Florence Price: PIano Discoveries, a collection of world-premiere recordings of recently discovered piano works by the groundbreaking African-American composer and Some of These Days comprising freedom songs and spirituals that reflect on social justice, progress and equality. Her Sony Masterworks recording Holes in the Sky, a celebration of the contributions of phenomenal women to the past, present and future of American music, was released in March 2019, debuting at the top of the Billboard charts. Her recording For Love Of You marks her concerto recording debut and celebrates the 200th birthday of the great pianist and composer Clara Schumann. Her Sony Classical debut release For Lenny debuted in the Billboard Top 20 and was awarded the 2017 Classical Recording Foundation Award, and America Again was selected by NPR as one of "10 Albums that Saved 2016” and hailed as "a balm for a country riven by disunion" by the Boston Globe.  

Ms. Downes enjoys creative collaborations with a range of leading artists, including folk icon Judy Collins, pianist Simone Dinnerstein, former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, multi-instrumentalist/composer/singer Rhiannon Giddens, writer Adam Gopnik, baritone Thomas Hampson and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Her close partnerships with prominent composers span genres and generations, with premieres and commissions coming from Michael Abels, Clarice Assad, John Corigliano, Jennifer Higdon, Paola Prestini, Stephen Schwartz and many others. 

She is the creator and curator of the Rising Sun Music, a monthly recording series that sheds light on the music and stories of Black composers over the past 200 years, featuring a wide range of leading instrumentalists and vocalists (including Ms. Downes). She is host of AMPLIFY with Lara Downes, a video series, now in its second season, for NPR Music that engages visionary Black musicians and artists in important topics confronting them today; and an evening host and Resident Artist at KDFC. 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. 

Her fierce commitment to activism and advocacy has 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.



Toronto-based percussionist Britton-René Collins finds passion in the art of contemporary percussion performance. A winner of the 2020 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition, Britton-René has dedicated her artistry to shaping a more inclusive community for all musicians to thrive in equally. She was awarded the Ambassador Prize for exceptional musicianship and demonstrating an active commitment to creating social change through her music. She recently launched a blog where she discusses her experiences in facing various challenges as a minority musician.

Britton-René actively expands her knowledge and skills in a vast pool of contrasting genres, which she believes enhances her musicianship and performance techniques. Her experience includes studies of classical, contemporary, global and new music.

As an Orchestra US fellow, Britton-René strives to bring accessible music to underserved communities. She is also passionate about contributing to the growth of modern percussion repertoire and her current projects include composing and commissioning new works for multi-percussion and marimba.

Born in the United States, Britton-René began her instrumental training at the age of five. She has since received several scholarship awards and is currently completing her Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music (2017-2021). As an artist, Britton-René proudly endorses Vic Firth sticks and mallets, Zildjian Cymbals and Marimba One instruments.

Recent highlights include attending the soundSCAPE new music composition and performance exchange in Italy and being selected to appear as a soloist in upcoming concerto performances with symphony orchestras in the United States and Canada.



A powerful communicator renowned for her musical scope and versatility, Brazilian American Clarice Assad is a significant artistic voice in the classical, world music, pop and jazz genres. A Grammy nominated composer, celebrated pianist and inventive vocalist, she is renowned for her evocative colors, rich textures and diverse stylistic range. As an innovator, her award-winning Voxploration Series on music creation, songwriting and improvisation has been presented throughout the United States, Brazil, Europe and the Middle East. With her artistic talents sought-after by artists and organizations worldwide, the multi-talented musician continues to attract new audiences both onstage and off.

In the recording arena, Ms. Assad has released seven solo albums and appeared on or had her works performed on another 30. Her music is represented on Cedille Records, SONY Masterworks, Nonesuch, Adventure Music, Edge, Telarc, NSS Music, GHA, and CHANDOS Ms. Assad will have four recordings featuring her works released in 2019.

A prolific Grammy nominated composer with over 70 works to her credit, Clarice Assad’s numerous commissions include works for Carnegie Hall, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Orquestra Sinfônica de São Paulo, Chicago Sinfonietta, San Jose Chamber Orchestra, the Boston Youth Orchestra, the Bravo! Vail Music Festival, Queen Reef Music Festival and the La Jolla Music Festival, to name a few. Her compositions have been recorded by some of the most prominent names in classical music, including percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, cellist Yo- Yo Ma, violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and oboist Liang Wang. Assad’s music has been performed by internationally acclaimed orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony, Queensland Symphony and the Orquestra Sinfônica de São Paulo. Ms. Assad has served as a composer-in-residence for the Albany Symphony, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, New Century Chamber Orchestra and the Boston Landmarks Orchestra. Her works are published in France (Editions Lemoine), Germany (Trekel), Criadores do Brasil (Brazil) and by Virtual Artists Collective Publishing, (VACP) a publishing company co-founded with poet and philosopher Steve Schroeder. Ms. Assad is currently writing the soundtrack to Devoti Tutti, a documentary by Bernadette Wegenstein, while composing the music for a ballet by award-winning choreographer Shannon Alvis.

As a performer, Clarice has shared the stage with such artists as Bobby McFerrin, Anat Cohen, Nadia Sirota, Paquito D’Rivera, Tom Harrell, Marilyn Mazur and Mike Marshall, among other outstanding musicians. She has performed at internationally renowned venues and festivals including The Netherlands’ Concertgebouw, New York’s Carnegie Hall, Belgium’s Le Palais des Beaux-Arts, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Le Casino de Paris, Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Caramoor International Jazz Festival.

A passionate educator, in 2015 Ms. Assad founded VOXploration, an award-winning, trailblazing program which presents a creative, fun, and accessible approach to music education through meaningful, interactive experiences. Carefully curated to work equally well with participants of any age who have little music education or those having musical backgrounds, VOXploration has received grants and awards from Brazilian foundations such as CAIXA CULTURAL and SESC, as well as American grants from New Music USA and the McKnight Foundation. Ms. Assad has given masterclasses, residencies and workshops throughout the United States, Europe and Middle East.

Born in Rio de Janiero, Clarice Assad is one of the most widely performed Brazilian concert music composers of her generation. The recipient of numerous honors and awards, amongst them an Aaron Copland Award and several ASCAP awards in composition, Clarice Assad holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Roosevelt University in Chicago and a Master of Music degree from The University of Michigan School of Music.





An extended suite of pieces for piano and collaborative instrumentation, composed by Clarice Assad for pianist Lara Downes, reflecting on global transformation, disruption and destruction, renewal and rebirth. As we navigate a changed world, how do we reimagine the nature of time and space, of human relationships, and of our residence on this planet?







Lara Downes, piano

Britton-René Collins, marimba

Clarice Assad, vocals



A set of solo piano miniatures inspired by the individual vision and intention of diverse composers for peace, empathy, internal shift and communal change.

William Grant: Still Summerland

Angelica Negron: Sueño Recurrente

Carlos Simon: Like Moons and Like Suns

Nkeiru Okoye: When Young Spring Comes

Daniel Gilliam: Body at Rest

Michael Shapiro: Tending

Sean Hickey: Fluid

Gabriel Kahane: Little Love

Scott Joplin: Solace

Valentin Silvestrov: Lullaby

Sam Cooke: A Change is Gonna Come (arr. Jeremy Siskind)

Lara Downes, solo piano

The program is subject to change.


"When I prepared to write this suite reflecting on global transformation, destruction and renewal, I realized how much of these ideas have permeated my music through my 25 years as a composer. World of Change is a kaleidoscopic suite of music, old and new,written at different times through the years I have been around this planet and seeing it change dramatically in such a short period. The common thread, for the most part, is water. The element without which nothing we know of could survive. The new material takes center stage as the suite's bookends: It begins with an instrumental overture, Preface, and ends with a song called A World of Change.

"The middle of the suite is a look back into critical moments in my life when I seemed either highly optimistic or preoccupied with the impact we humans have over the natural world, for better or worse, and how our behavior affects everything and everyone around us. The movements are II. KALEIDOSCOPE, a metaphor for sustainability and continuous challenges; III. A TIDE OF LIVING WATER, a song about hopelessness and finding comfort in the inevitable flow of life; then IV. DIATOMS and V. CORAL REEF, from Aquamarine: an homage to the seas and its endless diversity of life, some of which are still utterly alien to humans, despite our sharing of this very planet. Many species are now in danger of going extinct because of global warming.

"The suite concludes with a song titled A World of Change, emphasizing the element of water in a different interpretation: the cyber waters we must navigate in today's interconnected world. It questions our readiness for a world where thoughts and free speech are held tight in compressed bottles living inside imaginary clouds."

—Clarice Assad