The Corona Concerts
Edwin Orion Brownell is a composer, concert pianist, entertainer, rocker and author based in Ottawa and Montreal. With 15 albums of original music he has been electrifying audiences in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and across North America for the last four decades. Born in Ottawa to musical parents, he started playing piano at the age of four and a couple of years later began his training with the Royal Conservatory.
After a successful international career touring over two decades with rock and R&B groups (including Longbottom, Straight No Chaser, Black and Blue, Crawdaddy, Bobby Lee Silcott, Derek Martin, Angel Forrest and his own ensemble Edwin & the Bedouins), Brownell returned to his roots, performing works of the romantic classical repertoire and specializing in the music of Chopin and Tchaikovsky.
In 1995 he began working with ballet companies (most notably Montreal’s “Ballet Divertimento”) and some of his improvised pieces for the dancers were later turned into his earliest compositions. This focus on writing lead to the release of his first classical albums; “Maimonides Pops” and “Music of the Dance.” Although these CDs contained works by Beethoven, Puccini, Delibes, Chopin and Tchaikovsky, they also featured original songs which were premiered at Place des Arts in 2005.
Over the next two years Brownell completed “Journey of the Spirit,” a double album of entirely original music, including his tour-de-force “The Ein Gedi Suite.” This disc was launched at the Ein Gedi Concert Hall in Israel in 2007, at Place des Arts in 2008, and at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in 2012 and 2013.
In 2009, the composer released his fourth classical album, the CD / DVD “SMILE” at another sold out Place des Arts concert. Over the next three years, he wrote, produced and launched his fifth classical disc and first chamber music album “Songs of Love and Marriage.” Featuring solo piano pieces alongside works performed by his quintet The Zara Strings (whose members include musicians of the Orchestre Metropolitan), the concerts at Place des Arts and the National Arts Centre launching this CD were recorded and released on his 2014 live album “Forever Laughter.”
With new chamber music works under his belt, “The Inside Track” (featuring studio recordings of 11 new original compositions) was launched with a sextet version of the Zara Strings to a sold out show at Loyola Chapel in the fall of 2016. This concert and the rehearsals leading up to it were recorded for Brownell’s 11th album “Songs for Canada,” released on Canada’s 150th birthday on July 1st, 2017. This classical opus contains six compositions for solo piano, one work for bassoon quintet, and his famous Ein Gedi Suite re-arranged for piano sextet.
All through the time he was concentrating on classical compositions and recording, Brownell continued to play with Edwin & the Bedouins (who now include the musicians of The Guess Who, Mahogany Rush, April Wine and Offenbach), launching the group’s 3rd album “One for All” in 2011. In 2013, he celebrated his group’s twentieth anniversary by headlining a huge benefit concert for the Philippine typhoon relief. In August of 2017 he performed with Gary Moffet and Jerry Mercer at the Hemmingford Campground just south of Montreal, and in 2019 Brownell returned to his rock roots with the release of “Before,” a compilation album looking at his years as a side man from 1985 to 1999. This album was released at a tribute concert for the late, great Bobby Lee Silcott, whose hit “You and Me” appeared on the CD.
With the onset of the coronavirus in March 2020, Brownell had to stop giving live in-person concerts, but within a week of the beginning of the lockdown in Montreal he began a series of online shows called the Corona Family Concert Series. From March 20 to May 31, he gave 67 different concerts in 73 days to tens of thousands of views. On June 1 the 2nd series of concerts began, ending with the 100th concert on September 11. At the 99th show Brownell released his 13th album “Edwin Orion Brownell goes Baroque.” At this point the composer/pianist took two months off to move before restarting the concert series in early December. This series ended on July 24, 2021 just after the release of "Romance," Brownell's 14th album, and almost every single show of the third series has had over 1000 household views. The fourth series began with the "Cat's Meow" Concert on October 9th, 2021 and ended for good on March 12, 2022 with a Benefit Concert for Ukraine,
Along with composing and performing music. Edwin Brownell is also an author. In late 2015 he finished his first book Operation Hannibal, the story of the German evacuation of Prussia at the end of World War Two, and he is now looking for a publisher. He has begun his second work Panzers in Retreat, but is now concentrating on finishing a project co-authored with his wife Nechama Surik detailing the Corona Family Concert Series.
At the present date, Brownell’s original music is being played on radio stations across North America, Europe, South Africa, Australia and the Far East. For the future, Brownell is focusing on his family along with his regular in-person concert work, but is planning his next six albums including "The Waltz King” (coming out sometime in 2023) and “The Donald is an a _ _ _ _ _ e and Other Hits of 2020," in 2024.