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The 5 Browns: Blending Pop And Classical

Piano-playing siblings from Utah, The 5 Browns' members were once the media darlings of classical music. They received the kind of mainstream press coverage most young classical musicians could only dream of. Now, a few years after the frenzy, the group is still building its career. Its latest album is titled 5 Browns in Hollywood and features music from film.

Though The 5 Browns' members have a wide repertoire, they're often seen as a pop group. They play the warhorses and show tunes, but they also tackle compositions by Stravinsky and Rachmaninoff. Desirae Brown says she's glad the media pressure has subsided.

"We know the drill now, so that everything doesn't quite seem like such an epic disaster," she says.

The 5 Browns faced one epic disaster a few years ago. Member Greg Brown spent the day leading up to a concert playing too much Tetris on his cell phone, and he paid the price.

"We went out onstage, and all I could see were the stupid bricks falling in my head, instead of concentrating on the notes," he says. "I ended up messing up."

Brown caused what he calls "a five-piano pileup" in the middle of a piece -- and learned a hard lesson about discipline on the road.

A 5 Browns performance is dazzling. There's something about watching five brothers and sisters, each only one year apart, playing such challenging music together and having a blast in the process.

Playing vigorous, emotional pieces for young people who've never heard it before is what The 5 Browns say they love doing most. Gregory Brown says they want to take classical music down from the ivory tower, out of what he calls "the bubble."

"You don't have to be classically educated to understand this music," he says. "So that's what we're trying to do, is break out of the bubble and play this music for people who haven't heard it before."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award-winning senior producer/reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.