The 5 Browns
'The World Within Reach'
After a sensational worldwide debut with their self-titled first album, The 5 Browns are back with No Boundaries, their all-new recording for RCA Red Seal.
No Boundaries features the five piano virtuosos in a wide-ranging selection of music both familiar and rare. Highlighting the recording, which showcases the five playing together and in various combinations, are spellbinding transcriptions of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, 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 Dvorak’s “Going Home” theme from his Ninth Symphony.
No Boundaries is being released on CD as well as Dual Disc. The new Dual Disc format combines audio and video content on a two-sided disc and features music videos of The 5 Browns performing three tracks from the album. The videos were shot outdoors in Utah, with the Browns’ five black Steinways in dramatic contrast to the snow-white surface of the Bonneville Salt Flats, framed by a beautiful setting of purple mountains in the distance and a pink desert horizon at sunset.
The 5 Browns – Desirae, Gregory, Deondra, Melody, and Ryan – were a great, all-American “story” last year, when the press first learned of their spectacular accomplishments: five attractive and appealing brothers and sisters from Utah who were budding concert pianists studying at the Juilliard School of Music, all at the same time – a first at the prestigious, century-old school.
And now with the release of their follow-up album - No Boundaries, which is now available in all stores - the success story continues.
Chatting recently with Deondra, Gregory, Melody, Desirae and Ryan, and knowing that being that they were one family, that had had five pianos, with 50 fingers creatively on the go at any given time, it just seemed that their household growing up must have been one incredible noisy place to be?! Was it? Deondra - "Boy, was it ever! We started out with only one piano, but as more of us came along and needed more time to practice we did have to eventually get five pianos. We were just lucky that we had nice neighbors all growing up who didn't mind non-stop music coming from our house. And my poor parents even had to often talk on the phone in the garage!!"
Your new CD title No Boundaries is quite obviously a nod towards classical music and what can be garnered from it, but is that the same philosophy for the title that you guys have also? Gregory - "We actually put quite a bit of thought into the title for this CD. When we first got started as the 5 Browns, one of our main goals was to try and break down some of the boundaries and barriers that classical music has put up for itself. We realized that there are all these unnecessary rules of etiquette, behavior, and stuffiness that for some reason have been tagged onto classical music that make people really nervous and scared. When is it ok to clap? Am I dressed up enough? Can I talk or relate to the person up on stage? These are some things that are responsible for turning some people off of this great music, and we've realized (after a year of touring and seeing these barriers between artist and audience broken down) that the little bubble of classical music needs to be, and can be popped. After all this, we all decided that the title "No Boundaries" would be a perfect way to announce our continuing quest to emancipate this music."
If there was one track on this new album that truly encapsulated The 5 Browns at their musical and lyrical finest, which one would it be ... and why? Melody - "I have to say that one of our favorite pieces on the album to play, record, and film was Stravinsky's "Firebird". There's just something about this piece that really gets to all of us. I mean how can it not when we're constantly reminded of what it felt like to play out on the Bonneville salt flats while filming the music video, surrounded only by an almost infinity of white salt and the most beautiful sunset you could ever imagine! Something hit me out there...it was one of those moments in life where the greatest music and the greatest scenery was combined to create a sort of atmosphere that transcended this world. So in saying this I think one of the most important things about music, and classical music in particular, is when you can feel like you're listening or playing beyond yourself or the performer. Therefore that's why this sticks out in my mind as being a high point for the five of us musically."
It's been noted that you are a "... quintet of piano prodigies" who "... revamps stuffy classics for the Rachmaninoff-impaired." How does one know if they are indeed 'Rachmaninoff-impaired' and is listening to The 5 Browns the only way to cure oneself, perhaps?! Desirae - "I think the "Rachmaninoff impaired" is probably the kind of person who really hasn't listened to classical music before. If someone would like to start getting into classical music, I guess The 5 Browns is a pretty good place to start. We try to put things on our albums that will really emotionally connect with people. In that way the music we play becomes music that people can relate to, and not just "classical" music in the scary "I-can't-understand-this" kind of way."
Having all of you made your debut with major symphony orchestras as early as age 9, I'm wondering just what goes through a young persons head whilst taking the stage at that time for their very first performance? Melody - "All I remember is walking out on stage in my pretty little dress (that my grandmother picked out for me for this occasion) and thinking how nervous I was. Not only were all of the lights directed at me, but every audience member was focused on me as well! Yes I was scared of messing up with an orchestra (something very nightmarish where I had seen young musicians have to get up from the piano go over to the conductor, look at the score, and start some part over again) but I knew I had had so many hours of practice before this (not to mention the longer rehearsal with the orchestra the night before) that I knew I could do this. I can't remember the specifics of the performance at all, but I do remember the "aftermath" if you will. All of my friends and family had gathered and were congratulating me with flowers and some of the kindest words I had ever heard! One compliment, given by my aunt, stays with me to this day..."Here you looked so pretty and dainty when you walked out on stage, but when you sat down and played you shattered that image! You really can play!"
Where was the new album cover shot, who drew the piano on the ground, what song are you all seemingly singing, and what's made everyone laugh so darn much?! Deondra - "The album cover shoot was so much fun for us. It was all done out in Brooklyn on an old, abandoned airport runway, and we were so happy how it turned out because we feel it really captures our true personalities. We are a happy group who just love to laugh and have a lot of fun wherever we go. We also love to dance, especially to hip-hop and pop music. So the photographer pulled up a van next to the runway and blasted some Kanye West from the stereo, and that photo was what came out."
Please explain more how classical music can transcend everything and what it can inspire within the younger generation? Desirae - "Emotionally you can experience everything through classical music that you would experience in real life. There's drama, love, anger, angst, and euphoria. If anything, these emotive states are amplified through classical music because there's so much music there to express with. We hope that a younger generation will not only connect with this music, but be inspired to express themselves through this music, whether this means playing it or listening to it. Understanding these qualities in the music helps a person to better understand themselves. I think classical music inspires people to reach for the greatest things our culture, and society, have to offer. I think everyone hopes for this in upcoming generations."
What '80s (and possibly cheesy!) song would you love to cover today if asked ... and why?! Gregory - "Let's see, I guess it would have to be something without words, since none of us claim to be singers. 80's music seems to be making quite the come back in recent years, but I don't really know of any classical music based on pop music from the 80's, so we would probably have to get something specially arranged. If we had to get something from that decade though, I think it would be pretty fun if we could get a really cool and virtuosic arrangement of the theme song from "Beverly Hills Cop" (with Eddie Murphy). I have to admit, I was pretty young when that song came out, but I remember being sort of obsessed with it."
If this so-called "Fab Five" of yours lost a sibling to another career choice, would it have to be renamed 'The 4 Browns'?! Ryan - "As of now, we all are really enjoying what we are doing! We really love traveling and hanging out with each other on the road. It's not every day that you get to travel with your whole flippin’ family! We really are just trying to take our careers a day at a time. It's hard to look much into the future when you’re having so much fun, but if some time down the road someone decides to go solo or take a different career track we would be totally fine with it. We were all solo trained in school growing up, so things are open, but for the most part, as long as people want to listen to the 5 Browns we will keep playing the music and that's what really makes us happy!"
Lastly, I like Penguins ... do you? Ryan - "We all really think penguins are cute! We love the movie, March of the Penguins! It was a really great movie. I sure hope you don't think we look like penguins though...our skin is too fare to have much resemblance! Lol ..."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of The 5 Brown's brand new CD, just answer this easy 5 Browns trivia question: Please place the members of The 5 Browns in order (youngest first) of the ages!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one either an AUTOGRAPHED CD or an AUTOGRAPHED poster of the group! Just send us an e:mail here before May 15th with your answer and the subject title '5 BROWNS SIGNED STUFF' to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Back To Archives