Last Thursday, September 18, at 6:30 pm, Laura Downes not only performed beautifully on the piano, but gave precious insight into the music and composers that inspired her to create the program Amerika: Expression and Exile at the Embassy of the Czech Republic. In her opening remarks, she spoke about the use of music to free us. She said, “As jazz captured the imaginations of Europe and the world, it offered an escape from the confines of totalitarianism.” Her concert paid tribute to some of the finest composers of Czech origin, including Bohuslav Martinů, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and Jaroslav Ježek. Opening with Erwin Schulhof´s incredibly difficult masterpiece, Suite Dansante en Jazz, she mesmerized the audience in an exceptional show of talent. She also invited to the stage Cultural Attaché Robert Řehák and Public Relations Specialist Mary E. Fetzko, who gave voice to composer Andre Singer’s Nine Parables to Franz Kafka´s "Amerika," while Downes performed on piano. For the close of the first half, she performed the popular Czech favorite Shining by Jaroslav Ježek and invited the audience to sing-a-long. Her performance continued with the classic Etudes and Polkas by Bohuslav Martinů and closed with Wolfgang Korngold´s Sonata no. 2 in E major, Op. 2, which Korngold incredibly composed at the age of only 13. Downes said, “Kafka never set foot in America, but maybe he used the exercise of writing his novel Amerika to imagine opening a door to a way out for himself.” One’s art is the song of his soul, a form of expression and a way out of the darkness. Bravo Ms. Downes for such a brilliant and memorable performance.