Gregory W. Brown

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Gregory W. Brown
Gregory W. Brown
Gregory W. Brown
Background information
Born (1974-11-08) November 8, 1974 (age 48)
OriginExeter, New Hampshire, United States
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, professor
LabelsNavona Records, Innova Recordings

Gregory W. Brown is an American composer whose works have been performed across the United States and Europe, including Carnegie Hall[1] in New York City, Cadogan Hall in London,[2] and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.[3] His commissions for vocal ensemble New York Polyphony have been heard on American Public Media's Performance Today, BBC Radio, Minnesota Public Radio, Kansas Public Radio, and Danish National Radio. Brown is best known for his "Missa Charles Darwin", a work combining the structure of the standard mass with texts from Charles Darwin, which is featured in his brother Dan Brown's novel Origin.[4]

Early life[edit]

Gregory Brown grew up in Exeter, New Hampshire. He is the son of a mathematician father and church organist mother. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy,[5] and as an Amherst College undergraduate, he initially majored in geology, then switched to pursue music instead, becoming a composer and conductor. He holds degrees from the Hugh Hodgson School of Music (University of Georgia), Westminster Choir College, and Amherst College, where he studied with the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Lewis Spratlan.[6] His older brother is the noted author Dan Brown.[7]

Missa Charles Darwin[edit]

"Missa Charles Darwin" is a multi-movement composition by Gregory W. Brown that is scored for unaccompanied male vocal quartet, using texts from Darwin compiled and edited by New York Polyphony bass Craig Phillips. Based on the standard five-movement structure of the Mass, the "Missa Charles Darwin" honors the compositional and harmonic conventions of its musical antecedents. Unlike traditional Mass settings, however, the sacred texts have been replaced with excerpts from On the Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, and Darwin's extant correspondence.[8] Brown's brother also credits this piece as the inspiration for his best selling novel Origin.[9]

Selected Compositions[edit]

  • Nine Bagatelles for Guitar Trio (2008)[10]
  • Moonstrung Air (2015)[11]
  • Missa Charles Darwin (Special Edition) (2017)[12]
  • Caliban in Afterlife (2017)[13]
  • Love (&) Doubt (2017)[14]
  • Sweet & Twenty (2017)[15]
  • un/bodying/s (2017)

Moonstrung Air, Brown's 2015 CD of original choral and vocal works, was Q2's Album of the Week for Feb 16th ("[Brown's] command of transcendent sound is constant"), and Gapplegate Classical-Modern Review remarked: "The performances are exemplary, the sound excellent and the compositions show us that Gregory W. Brown takes to vocal writing as a natural. The music has eloquence, verve and old-in-new panache."

Brown's latest major work — un/bodying/s — was premiered by Philadelphia choir The Crossing in June 2017.[16] This 35-minute cantata for 24 voices uses new texts by poet Todd Hearon and focuses on issues of displacement and ecology around the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir. Other current and recent commissions include works for the Seattle Bach Choir,[17] Ensemble Nobiles (Leipzig), Boston Choral Ensemble, soprano Mary Hubbell (USA), contralto Kristine Gether (Denmark), countertenor Geoffrey Silver (UK), and others.


  1. ^ "Celebration 88 at Weill Recital Hall (Carnegie Hall) - Mary Hubbell".
  2. ^ "New York Polyphony". Cadogan Hall.
  3. ^ "MusicSpoke Composers In The News – MusicSpoke Notes". 29 May 2015.
  4. ^ Barone, Joshua (6 October 2017). "Hear the Music Behind Dan Brown's Latest Novel". The New York Times – via
  5. ^ "A composer comes home". Phillips Exeter Academy. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  6. ^ "Ep 24-Gregory W Brown on Doing Music Full-Time - The Portfolio Composer".
  7. ^ "Charles Darwin, a best-selling brother, and a musical conversation for Massachusetts composer Gregory W. Brown - The Boston Globe". The Boston Globe.
  8. ^ Kleiman, Jamie. "Gregory W Brown". Gregory W Brown.
  9. ^ "Brown - Missa Charles Darwin".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ "Emergence by The Athens Guitar Trio on Apple Music". 10 April 2008.
  11. ^ "MOONSTRUNG AIR :: Navona Records".
  12. ^ "Gregory W. Brown: Missa Charles Darwin - New York Polyphony - Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic.
  13. ^ "Recital in New York City to Benefit Eastman School of Music's Renée Fleming Endowed Scholarship Fund - Eastman School of Music". 23 February 2017.
  14. ^ "The Disarm Hate Project – San Diego Pro Arte Voices". 2 December 2016.
  15. ^ "Albany Records: Reflections on Time & Mortality".
  16. ^ "For an edgy treat, catch the Crossing's 'Month of Moderns' finale". 27 June 2017.
  17. ^ "Seattle Bach Choir: Swift as a Shadow".