“One family, five pianos and 50 fingers add up to the biggest classical music sensation in years,” the New York Post wrote last year of THE 5 BROWNS, adding, “When these kids do Rachmaninoff, they’ll make you forget about Marshall amps.” A youthful, all-American quintet of brothers and sisters, each a virtuoso concert pianist, THE 5 BROWNS swept the classical world in 2005 with the release of their self-titled first recording for RCA Red Seal, which landed them at the top of the weekly Billboard charts and, at the end of the year, as one of the Top Classical Artists of 2005. With their next album No Boundaries now in stores, THE 5 BROWNS are already delivering on their dream of waking up classical music and introducing it to the widest, largest and most excited audience they can find.
The “Fab Five” – as People headlined its profile of Ryan, 20 years old; Melody, 21; Gregory, 23; Deondra, 25; and Desirae, 27 – bring together five distinctive and discriminating keyboard talents, honed at New York’s Juilliard School, where for five consecutive years they studied simultaneously. With the advice and direction of their manager Joel Diamond, and their parents, Keith and Lisa, they hit on the idea of casting their lot together as a unique quintet of classical pianists, performing on five pianos and in various ensemble combinations. Their irresistible story has been seen on Oprah, 60 Minutes, Good Morning America and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. They have been profiled in the pages of The New York Times, People Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Gramophone, Entertainment Weekly, Time for Kids Magazine and Sunday London Telegraph, and the classical critics for The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune have hailed their artistry. In the wake of the first album’s release, Entertainment Weekly announced, “This quintet of piano prodigies revamps stuffy classics for the Rachmaninoff-impaired.”
Make no mistake about what THE 5 BROWNS do: they play classical classical music, but not quite as you’ve ever heard it before. And that fresh energy and sound – as their concert performances are proving – is opening the doors to classical music for wider and younger audiences.
After one of THE 5 BROWNS ’ most recent concerts in the U.S. with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Morning News wrote, “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.”
All year long, the Browns have been astounded by the response to their performances in a variety of venues, many of them a part of the everyday lives of people who live far away from Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Playing in schools and civic auditoriums, where the tickets are affordable and families can attend together (often three generations at once), the concerts have sold out and – to everyone’s delight – they’ve tapped a new audience. The Browns had younger members of their audiences dancing in the aisles on a recent tour. The roar of 2,500 screaming grade school and high school kids in a packed concert hall in Arizona nearly swept the Browns off the stage. And it happened again amid the deafening cheers of 4,000 in the college basketball arena of a small Idaho town, so packed that even the seats with no view were taken. The Browns have discovered that almost a third of their audience has seldom, if ever, attended a concert of classical music, and another third is college-age or younger. Their young fans wait patiently as long as an hour after performances to get the Browns’ autographs, and greeting the fans in the lobby after each of the concerts is especially important to them.
Critics and concertgoers alike agree that THE 5 BROWNS' fresh approach brings newcomers to the classical music genre, but they also hail the pianists ’ playing as "nothing less than wondrous," while offering "an accessible and exhilarating journey into the world of classical music." Their reach is already international: audiences in the UK and Germany, as well as Japan, have been dazzled by THE 5 BROWNS.
The Browns present themselves as they really are: young adults with a modern look who love fashion, sports, computer games, dancing and all types of music – most of all, classical. And audiences, especially the kids, are blown away when the five perform in concert. When THE 5 BROWNS sit down to perform on their five Steinway grand pianos … their eyes lock … a silent signal passes between them. And in an instant they are transformed, from “regular” kids to musical dynamos. Flawless in precision and steeped in passion, they invariably stun critics and shatter the preconceptions of those who find classical music inscrutable or intimidating.
THE 5 BROWNS are the sons and daughters of Keith and Lisa Brown, a down-to-earth couple from Utah. Lisa, classically trained to sing opera, decided early on that she wanted her children to have music in their lives. The piano was an obvious place to begin. “Then,” as Keith says simply, “their music took on a life of its own.” As the brothers and sisters became old enough to take piano lessons – around age 3 – each showed a clear talent and interest. Not only were they gifted, they enjoyed what they were doing. “I think Desirae, the oldest, was in school, about 6 years old, when she realized that not everybody in the world plays the piano,” Keith says. “She just thought it was a part of life, like eating or sleeping.”
Keith and Lisa ’s only desire was for their children to be happy and healthy, and to appreciate family values and the strong Mormon faith that helped them achieve the rewards of the pleasures of music. Neither Keith nor Lisa had any plan to raise a quintet of serious piano virtuosos, but unlike many parents, they did not see their talented children lose interest in the piano during adolescence. Quite the opposite, in fact, and to such a degree that Lisa felt compelled to devote herself to managing their schedule – a full-time job of getting them to and from lessons, and sitting with them at the bench for their three-hour practice each day until about age 11. The hard work paid off. Each of the children, by as early as age 9, had made a debut with a major symphony orchestra.
When Desirae began to plan for college – Deondra, a year younger, decided to accelerate her education in order to attend with her sister – the family began looking into music schools and scholarships. The overwhelming response included full scholarship offers from the finest music schools and conservatories in the nation. New York’s Juilliard School became their choice. One year later when Gregory, Melody and Ryan were accepted to Juilliard as well – the first time five siblings were ever accepted simultaneously as students at the school – the entire Brown family, along with their five pianos, moved from Utah to New York.
“Although the Browns create beautiful music together, each performer has developed a unique style,” Time for Kids has written, adding, “Gregory’s style is aggressive. Melody’s is graceful. Ryan’s bursts with energy and personality. Desirae and Deondra play many of the duets … Deondra’s style is intense and rhythmic, while Desirae’s is more delicate.”
THE 5 BROWNS ’ new album No Boundaries typically soars right past traditional expectations. The CD/DualDisc format includes three stunning music videos featuring the unforgettable melodies of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Stravinsky’s The Firebird as well as the new work Simple Gifts/Going Home – variations on Copland’s Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts” from Appalachian Spring and Dvo?ák’s “Going Home” theme from his Ninth Symphony. The setting for the videos could not be more dramatic – THE 5 BROWNS playing black Steinway grand pianos on the snow-white surface of Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats, framed by majestic purple mountains in the distance and a pink desert horizon at sunset. They have already appeared on Martha Stewart’s new TV show Martha, The View, Entertainment Tonight, A&E’s Breakfast With The Arts, The Tony Danza Show and will appear soon on NBC’s Weekend Today. They are featured in Elle Girl Magazine, Cosmo Girl and Readers Digest, with much more on the way.
"How could a classical musician ever imagine walking out on a stage with a sea of university students roaring as if we were the latest band!” Melody Brown said recently. “Never before could I have ever thought that I'd be performing composers like Debussy or Rachmaninoff for so many people my age and finding that they actually really enjoyed what they heard! It just shows you that classical music is not only meant for those who have grown up around it. It can be placed in a concert hall, stadium, or living room, and it has the same effect – this music can transcend everything!"
THE 5 BROWNS are exclusive Steinway artists.