Lara started her performance career in the 6th grade with the clarinet in the Cheldelin Middle School band with Scott Janes, and private lessons from Michael Curtis. She later joined the Corvallis Junior Symphony and then the Corvallis Youth Symphony. Lara switched to oboe in the 9th grade, studying with Annalisa Morton, and served as CYS principal oboe until her graduation. As a senior, she placed first on oboe in the State Solo Competition.
Her appearance in the first-ever Chintimini Festival in 2001 was pure serendipity. The new festival, intended for professional musicians with established careers, had a last-minute cancellation by its planned oboist. Lara had just graduated from the University of Oregon Honors College, studying oboe with J. Robert Moore, and had been named the Outstanding Undergraduate Music Scholar. Just in time, a CD of Lara’s senior recital found its way to the festival’s artistic director — and the show went on.
Lara began post-graduate study with Allan Vogel, achieving a Master of Fine Arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts in 2004. She now holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Southern California, where she studied with Vogel, David Weiss and Joel Timm. Her appearances at music festivals have included the Lucerne Music Festival under the direction of Pierre Boulez, as well as the Spoleto Festival USA, the Henry Mancini Institute, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Sarasota Music Festival and many subsequent performances at the Chintimini Festival. In addition to oboe, Lara also plays theremin and Baroque oboe (two instruments, she notes, that make the modern oboe seem easy!) Lara has played in Carnegie Hall on both oboe and theremin.
Today, Lara lives in North Hollywood with her husband Ben and their two young children. She is principal oboist of the Santa Barbara Symphony, the New West Symphony and the Pasadena Symphony and Pops. She is a frequent performer in many other orchestras and ensembles in the region, including the San Diego Symphony and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. She has appeared several times on TV, including with Mariah Carey and Il Divo, and on The Tonight Show with Prince and again with Andrea Bocelli and the Muppets.
She is also very active in film soundtrack recording and is on the board of the L.A. chapter of the Recording Musicians of America. Lara has played solo oboe and English horn for many prominent movie composers, including John Williams, Alan Silvestri, Randy Newman, Thomas Newman, James Horner, James Newton Howard, Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer and Michael Giacchino, among others. Her over 120 films include Avatar, Flight, The Amazing Spiderman I & II, Monsters University, Big Hero 6, Frozen, Finding Dory, Moana, Rogue One and Star Wars VII and VIII.