Five grand pianos at Vilar in Beaver Creek |

Five grand pianos at Vilar in Beaver Creek

Kris Sabel
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

Editor’s note: Director’s Chair is a weekly column where Kris Sabel, who is in charge of cultural programming for the Vail Valley Foundation, gives his expert take on shows not to be missed.

“One family, five pianos and 50 fingers add up to the biggest classical music sensation in years,” the New York Post wrote of The 5 Browns. The Vilar Performing Arts Center is pleased to welcome them back for a much anticipated encore performance Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Our local audience went crazy for them in 2006, and have been asking us to bring them back ever since.

This American-as-apple-pie quintet, now all in their 20s, each started playing the piano around the age of 3. By the age of 6 they were practicing a minimum of three hours a day. Playing came as naturally to them as eating or sleeping, and as early as age 9 they had each made their debut with a major symphony orchestra.

Their talent and desire eventually led them to the famed Julliard School, where the five siblings studied for five years at the same time.

And while each of them is a virtuoso on their own, we are fortunate they decided to share their music as a group, as well as individually. It is rare enough to see concerts with two pianos, but to have five grand pianos on one stage goes beyond exceptional. They perform some pieces as a quintet, and others in various combinations ” solos, duets and trios.

So exactly what kind of music do the siblings play on these five pianos? They play classical music ” but not the stuffy kind. They’ve created a fresh, edgy take on traditional pieces, a spin that is no doubt a result of their distinctive, youthful approach to the genre.

The 5 Browns are driven by a desire to share their music with a wider audience as well as a younger audience. And so far they are succeeding. They perform sold-out concerts around the world and receive rave reviews from critics and audiences of all ages.

When the siblings sit down to perform, their eyes lock and a silent signal passes between them. Their connection is the kind that perhaps can only be achieved through a familial connection ” between brothers and sisters who grew up and studied side by side through all these years. They create a nearly palpable energy that jumps across the footlights and inspires and engages the audience.

The 5 Browns’ recordings have gone to No. 1 on the classical Billboard charts, and helped create an entirely new fan base for classical music. They recently released their latest album, “Browns In Blue,” which explores the many varied and emotional musical shades of the color.

Tomorrow evening’s program features Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Holst, Chopin, Debussy, Ravel and the first movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.

It will be very special to see and hear these young musicians on five grand pianos, all in the intimacy of the VPAC.

The audience will also have the opportunity to hear the siblings’ insights into the music and their love of performing. At the start of the second half of the concert, they’ll bring five stools downstage and hold a question-and-answer session.

In addition to Saturday night’s performance, the 5 Browns will be sharing their talent and love of music with local piano students at an open rehearsal at the theatre at 1:30 p.m. For information on this special complimentary education opportunity, or to sign up for attendance, contact Heather Florio at or 970-748-6643.

I look forward to seeing you at the theatre.

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