The 5 Browns bring classical music to life in Beaver Creek
Vail, CO, Colorado
One would think that in a family of five kids ” three sisters and two brothers ” that sibling rivalries would be a must. Not so, according to Desirae Brown, the eldest of the classical piano act known as The 5 Browns. There are no battles to prove who among them is the best piano player, she said during a phone interview with all five members of the group.
“We’re all kind of working together now so it’s kind of to our benefit to really support each other, but even growing up it kind of felt like we understood each other,” Desirae said. “We supported each other, we understood what it was like to have a disappointing performance or get discouraged. So we kind of supported and respected one another. Even if all five of us played the same piece, we would play it five different ways so it’s more like a mutual respect rather than a competition.”
The 5 Browns are Desirae (29), Deondra (28), Gregory (26), Melody (24) and Ryan (23). The children of Mormon parents, each child started playing piano around the age of three and all five eventually attended the Julliard School in New York. Trained in classical piano, their repertoire ranges from Rachmaninoff to Chopin to Debussy and well beyond. Both of their albums ” “Browns In Blue” and “No Boundaries” ” went to No. 1 on the Billboard Classical charts. They’ve appeared on Oprah, 60 Minutes and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, as well as toured the world; they just returned from a tour in China.
Saturday night at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek, The 5 Browns will return to the stage with five pianos. They last played at the Vilar in 2006.
Dawn Poff, a Gypsum resident and piano teacher, said she and her family attended the show the last time The 5 Browns played at the Vilar and plan on being there Saturday night as well. As a piano player and teacher she knows firsthand the level of talent it takes to do what The 5 Browns do, she said.
“We love The 5 Browns,” Poff said. “They’re amazing. They do a great show. They’re very talented, they’re very entertaining.”
And for anyone worried that an evening of classical piano music might put them to sleep, Poff said forget about it.
“It’s not your typical classical piano show so it’s really amazing how they interact with each other (during) the pieces,” she said. “It’s very cool. It’s very lively.”
Though classically trained, the siblings often include elements of rock, Latin and jazz music into their performances, said Ryan, the youngest Brown. They even draw on contemporary artists like Coldplay, who Ryan said they are all big fans of.
“The energy that Chris Martin (of Coldplay) is able to put out while he’s onstage is incredible and we kind of try to take some of that into our own concerts,” Ryan said.
The 5 Browns group was born roughly five years ago, when the siblings were finishing school at Julliard.
“We all kind of came to the conclusion what better way to go out and share what we love than by doing it together,” Gregory said. “Things just sort of worked out after that decision and it kind of just snowballed.”
Since then they’ve had many classical pieces written for a five-piece arrangement, which makes for a broad and big sound when in concert.
“With five pianos it’s almost like the sections of an orchestra ” your options are that much greater,” Desirae said. “It’s fun for us to be able to play some of this repertoire that solo pianists in the past maybe would not have had a chance to play.”
It does seem kind of weird that all five siblings would want to play the same instrument, but according to Deondra, they’ve tried playing the violin, guitar and even the flute, but they all ended up coming back to their first love.
“We all kind of just felt like we were meant to play the piano. It was where we felt most comfortable in our creative voice and so we all kind of just stuck with that,” Deondra said.
High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: Classic piano sensations The 5 Browns.
When: Saturday night at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek.
Cost: $60 or $75 depending on seating.
More information: Call 888-920-2787 or visit http://www.vilarpac.com.