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2023 Conference Keynote Speakers

All speakers are subject to change.


Marc Bamuthi Joseph

BAMUTHI (Marc Bamuthi Joseph) is a 2017 TED Global Fellow, an inaugural recipient of the Guggenheim Social Practice initiative, and an honoree of the United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship.

While engaging in a deeply fulfilling and successful artistic career, Bamuthi also proudly serves as Vice President and Artistic Director of Social Impact at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.

He is in high demand for his creative approach to organizational design, brand development, and community mediation, and has been enlisted as a strategic partner or consultant for companies ranging from Coca Cola to Carnegie Hall. His TED talk on linking sport to freedom design among immigrant youth has been viewed more than 1 million times, and is a testament to his capacity to distill complex systems into accessible and poetic presentations. Bamuthi's community development philosophy, called "The Creative Ecosystem", has been implemented in dozens of cities across the United States and is the subject of several critical writings, including one of the seminal essays in "Cultural Transformations: Youth and Pedagogies of Possibility", published by Harvard Education Press.

Bamuthi is the founding Program Director of the exemplary non-profit Youth Speaks, and is a co-founder of Life is Living, a national series of one-day festivals which activate under-resourced parks and affirm peaceful urban life. His essays have been published in Harvard Education Press; he has lectured at more than 200 colleges, and has carried adjunct professorships at Stanford and Lehigh, among others. A proud alumnus of Morehouse College, Bamuthi received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the California College of Arts in the Spring of 2022.

Worldwide Representation: Sozo Artists, Inc. I[email protected] +1 (917) 791-3680

Lara Downes

Watch Lara Downes' latest TinyDesk concert.

Pianist Lara Downes has been called “an explorer whose imagination is fired by bringing notice to the underrepresented and forgotten” (The Log Journal). She is an iconoclast and trailblazer, and 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 is the creator and curator of Rising Sun Music, a 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 Lara Downes). Her latest album “Love at Last,” released by Pentatone, is a collection of solo piano works exploring themes of renewal, rebirth, and redemption, by 24 composers who span continents, cultures, and centuries. She also recently released “Reflections: Scott Joplin Reconsidered,” an album that showcases the stylistic breadth of Joplin’s music from his iconic piano rags to his songs, dances, and opera.

Lara Downes is host of the NPR Music video interview series AMPLIFY with Lara Downes, and 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.

Lara Downes was named Performance Today’s 2022 Classical Woman of the Year. Her 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’ fierce commitment to activism and advocacy see 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

Lara Downes is an artist represented by CADENZA ARTISTS.
Lara Downes is a Yamaha Artist.