The 5 Browns
The 5 Browns are a classical piano ensemble consisting of five siblings—two brothers and three sisters. In descending age order, the Browns are Desirae (born 1979), Deondra (born 1980), Gregory (born 1982), Melody (born 1984), and Ryan (born 1986). They are the sons and daughters of Keith and Lisa Brown and were born in Houston, Texas, where each began piano study with Yelena Kurinets at age three. In 1991, the family moved to Utah, and the children were homeschooled and continued private study there with Irene Peery-Fox.
Per an article by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Performing Arts Center, “Each child at around age 3 showed a clear talent and interest in piano lessons, and while the children were introduced to other instruments, their passion was the piano. 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 – a major payoff for the hours of practice and dedication the entire family had devoted.”
In addition to their work on five pianos, The 5 Browns perform and record works for solo piano, two pianos, and in various other combinations. Their genre is classical. Their repertoire ranges from beloved concert hall staples, such as Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King to lesser known works like Nico Muhly’s The Edge of the World and John Novacek’s Reflections on Shenandoah. They have recorded on the RCA Red Seal, Sony Masterworks, and E1 Music labels.
Per their biography on The 5 Browns Movie.com website, “The 5 Browns are delivering on their dream to wake up classical music by introducing it to the widest, largest and most excited audience they can find. Whether performing individually or together in various combinations from duo to complex five-piano arrangements, The 5 Browns reveal a deep connection to the intent of their material while bringing a fresh energy and dynamic character to the color and tonal spectrum of their sound.“
The 5 Browns – Ryan, Melody, Gregory, Deondra and Desirae – all attended New York’s Juilliard School from 2001 to 2006 where they studied with Yoheved Kaplinsky. In fact, the entire family moved to New York to enable their musical education, and they became the first family of five siblings ever accepted simultaneously. The quintet garnered critical attention in February 2002 when People magazine dubbed them the “Fab Five”, and they were featured on Oprah and 60 Minutes.
The quintet released their debut album, The 5 Browns, in 2005. The New York Post proclaimed, “One family, five pianos, and 50 fingers add up to the biggest classical music sensation in years… When these kids do Rachmaninoff, they’ll make you forget about Marshall amps.” By the end of 2005, they were among America’s top classical recording artists.
From 2004 to 2008, The Five Browns were signed with the RCA Red Seal label (later folded into Sony BMG Masterworks), but for their 2010 release, The 5 Browns In Hollywood, they signed with E1 Music. The group has released three CDs that each went to #1 on Billboard Magazine’s Classical Album Chart. They are managed by IMG artists and are exclusive Steinway Artists. Their concerts have widely received critical acclaim.
The five brothers and sisters present a spirited classical performance—the exuberance of youth, coupled with 5 maestros performing on five pianos with various ensemble combinations. They have garnered extensive coverage from media outlets ranging from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Good Morning America, Today, and The View to The Martha Stewart Show, Public Radio’s Performance Today, as well as The New York Times, Parade, People, the Los Angeles Times, the Sunday London Telegraph and Entertainment Weekly who called them “…five young Mormons who all play scorching piano. Thundering down on five Steinways together, they’re button-down cute and somewhat otherworldly.” The Dallas Morning News said, “Send them out to schools from shore to shore, with piano teachers on hand to sign up students afterward, and the future of classical music will look a lot brighter … THE 5 BROWNS proved that classical music can reach teens and twenty-somethings on their own ground, but without posturing or cheapening the product.” The 5 Browns have instigated somewhat of a classical music revival—”nearly a third of their audience has seldom if ever, attended a concert of classical music, while another third is college-age or younger.”
The 5 Browns tour extensively and have performed in numerous venues including the Grand National Theater in China, Suntory Hall in Japan and, in the United States, The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Symphony Hall in Chicago and Alice Tully Hall in New York City. Individually and collaboratively, they have soloed with orchestras around the world, including the National Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New Jersey Symphony, the San Antonio Symphony, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris.
In 2009, they performed as part of the New York Mercedes-Benz Fashion week. Designer Zac Posen placed five pianos in a line down the middle of the runway and the 5 Browns played complex five-piano arrangements. That year, in March 2009, their book, Life Between the Keys, a lighthearted collection of personal stories, was published by Phoenix Books. The group was also featured in a PBS TV special, “The 5 Browns in Concert” which aired on PBS stations throughout the country.
The 5 Browns commissioned and performed a five-piano concerto, ”The Edge of the World” by Nico Muhly, at the Ravinia Festival. The piece premiered in 2011 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestro James Conlon. In October 2013, they made their Carnegie Hall debut and released their sixth album, The Rite of Spring: Live at the Arthur Zankel Music Center. They were also part of Oprah Winfrey’s season 2 series “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) and CNN’s Piers Morgan Live.
The 5 Browns are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The 2017/18 season will include the release of their 7th album with Grammy award winning producer Adam Abeshouse, which in addition to musical favorites from their childhood will also feature an illustrated book authored by NY Times best seller Liesl Shurtliff.
The Virginian-Pilot has acclaimed, “Before seeing them in action, one had to wonder about the appeal of this quintet of Juilliard-trained siblings. Most classical pianists can’t draw anything near the audience this group gets on its national and international tours…All was neatly executed, perhaps the family bond explaining the remarkable precision…In between the big works, solo pieces demonstrated high levels of technical and interpretive skill. Of even more interest were duets that put together different sibling combinations in rarely heard repertoire….The family could not have become such a sensation without music-making like this.”
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