Jason Robert Brown, who prefers the title "songwriter" over "composer," talks about why he spends so much time performing his own material and engaging directly with his fans. He discusses writing all of his songs "in his own voice"; his short time at Rochester's esteemed Eastman School of Music; coming to New York, getting work in piano bars and how that led to rehearsal pianist jobs; the evolution of "Songs for a New World" and whether it began as a collection of existing songs or whether the material was newly created for the show; the nature of his collaboration with William Finn on the vocal arrangements for "A New Brain"; how he got hired for "Parade" after Stephen Sondheim passed, having the opportunity to choose his collaborators when the musical team was assembled for "Parade", and the changes he has made more recently to move the show away from Hal Prince's vision; how the origin of "The Last Five Years" began out of a desire to be free of collaborators and how it fuses "Songs for a New World" and "Parade"; why he enjoys writing incidental music for plays; his sojourn in Europe and his decision to return to the U.S. by moving to Los Angeles; the origin of "13" in a handful of songs that he happened to share with Michael Ritchie of the Center Theatre Group, the "trauma" of Broadway and subsequent revisions to musical; and the status of upcoming projects including the film version of "The Last Five Years", the "difficult, scary" chamber musical "The Connector", his collaboration with Marsha Norman on "The Bridges of Madison County", and the long-aborning stage adaptation of the film comedy "Honeymoon in Vegas". Original air date - May 11, 2011.
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