Fifty fingers, five pianos, one family

With the dream of bringing a new wave of attention and love to classical music, The 5 Browns, a family of classical pianists that travel and perform together, have been sharing their music with as many people as they possibly can, an audience that, as of last Friday, includes Hope College and Holland community members. The 5 Browns rose to the public eye when all five siblings attended the Julliard School of Music at the same time, the first group of five siblings to do so in the history of the school.

The musicians were featured in People magazine in 2002, as well as appearing on “Oprah” and “60 Minutes.” The quintet has also appeared on talk shows like “The Tonight Show,” “Good Morning America” and CNN, and they have had features in the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and Entertainment Weekly, amongst others. Prior to their Friday night performance, music students were given the opportunity to sit in on a master class with the siblings and three of Hope’s talented piano students. Gabby Karel (’21) said about the experience: “Performing in a master class can be a nerveracking experience, but the Browns were all very friendly and down-to-earth and made us feel at home.” The performance on Friday night was sold out weeks in advance, and the packed audience was not disappointed with the performance.

From 7:30 p.m. until about 10 p.m., listeners were entranced by The 5 Browns’ music and the incredible skill with which they played. With five pianos on stage at once, the family was a sight to behold as they poured out their hearts into the keys, bringing the spirit of classical music to life in the Jack H. Miller concert hall. All too soon, the night was over, and the audience was left to return to their homes, not minding the snowy weather as they hummed the lilting melodies from the evening on the way back to their cars. This is not the only way that Hope is featuring The 5 Browns this semester. On Friday, the film “Digging Through the Darkness: The 5 Browns Story” will be showing at the Knickerbocker Theatre downtown.

This film focuses on the story of the siblings and how they were able to overcome the abuse the three sisters, Deondra, Melody and Desirae suffered for years at the hands of their father / manager. The showtime for the film is at 7:30 p.m., and Hope’s share of ticket proceeds from the evening will be donated to The Foundation of Survivors of Abuse, an organization created by Desirae and Deondra Brown. Tickets are $7 for adults, $6 for senior citizens, children, Hope faculty and staff, and are free for Hope students.

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