Fifty Fingers, Five Browns on Key At Denison University Vail Series
Date of Event: December 6, 2003
Posted: November 24, 2003
A family of pianist siblings will bring their special combination of impressive technique, sparkle and playfulness to Swasey Chapel as the next presentation of the Denison University Vail Series. "Fifty Fingers, Five Browns" is set for 8 p.m. on Saturday (Dec. 6) in Swasey Chapel. A limited number of tickets may be available to the public at $15 each. Contact the Vail Series hotline at 740-587-6557 for information on how to order and ticket availability.
The Brown brothers and sisters -- Desirae, Deondra, Gregory, Melody and Ryan -- are all Juilliard School of Music students. The eldest sisters have been studying in the master's program while Gregory and Melody are in the college division and Ryan is attending the pre-college program. Although all five have studied with the same teachers, Yoheved Kaplinsky, chairwoman of the piano department at Juilliard and their current teacher, said in a New York Times interview "It's amazing how different they are in their music making and the direction of their talent." She continued, "I do know that each one is talented enough to make a niche for themselves in the music world if they so choose."
For the Vail concert, Desirae and Deondra will open the program withSymphonic Dancesfrom West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein. Ryan will play Sergei Prokofiev'sSonataOp. 28, No. 3 and Melody will close the first half of the program with Johannes Brahms'Klavierstucke, Op. 76. Desirae and Deondra will return after the intermission to play Ravel'sLa Valse for Two Pianosand Gregory will solo on Chopin'sSonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 35. The three sisters will combine to play the vivace movement of Malcolm Arnold'sConcerto for Piano Duet and Strings, Op. 32.
Winners of a long list of state, national and international competitions, the Brown siblings garnered the nation's attention with a 60 Minutes feature story on CBS which aired in October 2001. The attendance of four siblings at Juilliard was unprecedented given that the conservatory has just over 110 piano students and accepts only one of every nine applicants. Their Texas native parents introduced the children to music with the thought that they could play in church and for their kids. They also were consistently taught, by example, that music is a gift to be freely given. They have played for community events, for their own Mormon church services and for weddings, funerals and Sunday services for Thai and Laotian immigrants.
All began their piano studies at age three. Studying first in Texas with Yelena Kurinets, a Russian immigrant and former Moscow Conservatory piano professor, after moving to Utah in 1990 the siblings studied with Irene Peery-Fox, a Juilliard graduate who also had studied with Peabody's Leon Fleisher. As the children matured, so also did their dedication to music, which resulted in a competitive level of accomplishment.
Among the prizes the five Browns have earned are the second prize and audience favorite in the International Gina Bachauer Five-Piano Competition, a first and second place in the International Audio-Video Competition, first in the International Bartok/Kabalevsky, and second in the Kingsville International Competition along with the prestigious Isabel Scionti Award. They have performed with the Utah Symphony and the Philadelphia Orchestra, at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games and with the Chicago Sinfonietta. This year, in addition to their Vail concert, the Brown siblings will play at the National Music Teachers of North America Convention.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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- Barbara Stambaugh
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