Julie Amacher, Classical MPR
The 5 Browns — The Little Tin Box (Steinway & Sons)
The holiday season is a reflective time of year, when many are focused on traditions and special memories. That's the inspiration behind the 5 Browns' latest release, The Little Tin Box. Deondra Brown, along with her brother Greg, share the memories they have each have wrapped inside The Little Tin Box.
Deondra: "It was an opportunity for the five of us to look back on our childhood and remember the beautiful memories. At the same time, it was a start to understand and decipher those difficult memories, too. So we wanted to share that process with our listeners, and hopefully they'll be able to process their own journey by working through their childhood."
Greg, why is this recording the most personal and meaningful album that you all have ever recorded?
Greg:"Some of the pieces on the album are pieces we actually played when we were kids. The album itself is just reflective of our personal memories. So, for instance, there's a piece called 'Skater's Waltz' on the album, and it reminds us of the fun times we used to have during the winter, whether we were sledding or skating with each other."
Deondra, which of these pieces is most meaningful to you and why?
Deondra; "There is a piece on the album from Peer Gynt's Suite, 'Anitra's Dance.' The reason this piece is meaningful to me is it was one of the first four-hand duets that my sister Desiree and I learned together. We must have been about 6 or 7 years old.
"When we thought about what to put on this album, we had recently stumbled across old video footage of the two of us playing 'Anitra's Dance.' It seemed like a perfect merger to attach that part of our childhood and replay it again as adults. It made me have this special appreciation for my relationship with Desiree and this life journey of playing together."
Greg, do you have some personal favorites and why?
Greg: "The group of pieces from Schuman's 'Kinderscenen,' which means 'Scenes From Childhood,' is one of my personal favorites. I actually played these pieces when I was 9 or 10. When you're a kid, you kind of see the piece through your child eyes. When you revisit it, it almost feels like Schumann was making the piece as an adult.
"It's a combination of joy and a little bit of sadness. It's the joy of beauty, and the sadness that you know those beautiful moments of your childhood are gone. They're only existing now in memory."
While recording, what did each of you discover about yourselves?
Deondra: "So I have very strong, beautiful memories attached to many of these pieces. Even Beethoven's Fifth is attached to difficult memories I had as a child. Music has such an attachment to memory and emotions that there's a natural healing and purging that takes place a lot of times when we listen to music. I think it was definitely true for the five of us. We hope that as people listen to different pieces that they'll be able to attach their own memories and emotions to it and be able to feel a sense of release as they start to process through their childhood."
Greg: "I found a lot of joy in creating this project with my siblings and in looking back and recognizing and acknowledging the pain, but really embracing the joyful parts and the beautiful moments. Also, to be able to do all of that with your four best friends has been a really powerful and emotional experience."
To hear the rest of my conversation, download the extended podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.