"Brown can glide easily between gentle introspection and lively dancing. The two come together in the same piece..." - New Haven Register, Fran Fried
Bill Apollo Brown's life has been intrinsically tied to music since his early childhood years. Born in Tarrytown, New York, he was introduced to the piano by an aunt and started to play piano at the age of 5. He studied and performed the baritone horn, trombone, voice, and music theory in high school where he presented his first composition for string quartet, flute, oboe, clarinet, french horn, and bassoon, at the age of 17. Following his early fascination with the sound possibilities of the symphonic orchestra, he studied composition, theory, classical piano and trombone at the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut. He continued his studies under a special scholarship at Temple University, in Philadelphia, in the summer of 1973, with Clifford Taylor. It was there that Bill received his first public visibility as a composer, when one of his symphonic compositions was performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony under the direction of Mr. Taylor during the annual Ambler Music Festival. He continued his academic studies seeking a Bachelor of Music in composition, theory, and performance at Western Connecticut State University, in Danbury, Connecticut. Answering to the pressures of day-to-day life in the years following his college years, Bill sought out opportunities to teach and perform, in the greater New Haven area of Connecticut. His years at the Educational Center for the Arts, and the Neighborhood Music School, 1978 - 1998, nurtured his abilities as a music educator, a jazz ensemble director, and an accompanist for various dance performers and students.
He put together various jazz piano trios, quartets and ensembles, performing under the name of Bill Brown, then later under Bill Apollo Brown. Bill's writing was prolific and his tunes became crowd treasures. Compositions like the fast samba "Orange et Chocolat," the childlike waltz of "Kelly's Wish," the Joni Mitchell tribute "Amsterdam," and the ethereal "The Light From the Angel," attracted listeners to the Bill Brown sound. The effervescent samba/swing of "April in New York," quickly became a signature work and a favorite among listeners. He became known to Connecticut and New England music audiences as a gifted composer and pianist with a musical style that did not sacrifice accessibility.
"........ through the challenges of creating music, life has taught me, and continues to teach, a great deal about the arts, the art of musical composition, human relationships, and compassion."- Bill Apollo Brown
Eager to develop his own artistic voice, during those years of teaching and performing, he decided to study private composition with Giampolo Bracaldi of the Manhattan School of Music, and jazz piano with Bill O'Connell. Fueled by his love for jazz, classical music, gospel and rhythm & blues, he explored combining these different musical styles in search of his own sound. This became a major theme in the writings of Bill Apollo Brown. Also during that time, he was encouraged to perform and collaborate with accomplished dancers and choreographers who, recognizing the depth and versatility of his artistry, commissioned numerous compositions by Mr. Brown, some of them combining text, dance and music for live performance. The opportunity to work with gifted dancers is a blessing Mr. Brown truly cherishes. For his tremendous contribution and merit as a performer, composer and music educator, Bill received the Arts Award from the Arts Council of Greater New Haven in 1992.
A turning point came in late 1993, when he was approached by Jim Sinclair, music director of the Orchestra New England, to write an orchestral piece for their season finale. The commissioned symphony "Among The Trees ," premiered in May 1994 in New Haven. He served as Music Director for the "AMEN CORNER," by James Baldwin, directed by Seret Scott, which opened at the Long Wharf Theater New Haven in January of 1996. When he followed the invitation to join composer Deborah Fischer Teason in a collaborative effort under a grant from "Meet the Composers," Brown received the opportunity to utilize his compositional skills and education in a unique way: both composers taught music and lyrics to inner city kids of the Bridgeport Schools. In a second step, Brown and Teason orchestrated the songs written by the students for chorus, jazz band, Orff ensemble and full symphony orchestra. The highly publicized and enthusiastically received world premiere of "Comin' from the Block" featured over 150 student-performers from 6 different schools accompanied by a fully staffed Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Gustav Meier at the Klein Memorial Hall, in March of 1999. In September of 1999, Mr. Brown was named Associate Fellow at Morse College of Yale University - a prestigious distinction shared by luminaries such as Wynton Marsalis, Maurice Sendack, and Wendy Wassermann. The following year, he presented his composition "Dances for Piano," commissioned for the New Haven Summer International Festival of Arts and Ideas. Other commissions followed quickly, among them the string quartet "Roses" which was commissioned by the National Music Teachers' Association of Connecticut. It premiered at and was sponsored by the music department of Yale University, in November of 2001.
In the Fall of 2000 he was accepted into the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop in New York City where he has recently completed several new works. Among them is the symphonic jazz piece "Passacaglia" which was performed at Merkin Hall by the BMI New York Jazz Orchestra during their annual concert in July of 2004.Between 2004 and 2006, three of Bill's recent work's have had their premiere through PULSE concerts, "The Conjur Woman," "The Calling; the Light," and "Liana's Gypsy Dance."Bill was invited to join the faculty at The School at Jacob's Pillow as pianist for the jazz program for August of 2006. Mr. Brown held the position of Minister of Music at the United Methodist Church of Mount Kisco, New York, from September 2004 to November 2007. At present, Mr. Brown is working on a symphonic piece entitled Manhattan Suite No. 1, "Dances by Monet," inspired by one of his favorite impressionistic artists, the French painter Oscar-Claude Monet. Conceived as a narration suite consisting of several movements for a newly found chamber jazz orchestra, this work musically envisions the artist Monet as he is inspired by spontaneous scenarios occurring at various Manhattan locations. Mr. Brown presently serves as a musician/faculty member at the Harvest Collegiate High School in the west village of Manhattan. He has two daughters, Kelly and Liana, and two grandchildren, Regan and Seamus.
Describe your music
The Burning Tree May 2006
A Picture of Falling Snow October 2005
Passacaglia July 2004
Orange et Chocolat June 2004
The Last Dragon May 2004
Strollin' July 2003
April in New York June 2003
A Woman In A Green Dress April 2002
'Liana's Gypsy Dance' December 2005,
'The Conjur Woman' December 2004,
'Hymn of Light; The Calling' June 2005
"Comin' from the Block"
Three songs composed and Orchestrated in collaboration
With the 5th and 6th Grades of Garfield Elementary School
and Deborah Fischer Teason. March 6, 1999, Bridgeport Symphony, Gustav Meier, music director
"Among the Trees", for strings, flute, oboe, and Jazz piano trio May 24, 1994, Orchestra New England
James Sinclair, music director
Dans les jardins des pierres sacrées�, In the Gardens of Sacred Stones� for full orchestra
Sonatine, piano by Maurice Ravel, orchestration by Bill Apollo Brown
Passacaglia for Orchestra