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August 8, 2003

A program of music by one of the leading "new generation" composers, Jason Robert Brown.

PLAYLIST
Selection Source Performer(s) Comments
A quick biography: Jason Robert Brown is the Tony Award-winning composer and lyricist of Parade (1998), a musical written with Alfred Uhry and directed by Harold Prince, which ran for two and one-half months at Lincoln Center Theatre and won the Drama Desk and New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for Best New Musical. His first musical, Songs for a New World (1995), was produced Off-Broadway at the WPA Theatre, and has since been seen in more than 50 productions around the US, including one at New Line Theatre in St. Louis in 1998. As a conductor/arranger, his recent New York credits are William Finn's A New Brain at Lincoln Center Theatre and Oliver Goldstick's Dinah Was, directed by David Petrarca, at the Gramercy Theater. He composed incidental music for David Lindsay-Abaire's Fuddy Meers, Kenneth Lonergan's The Waverly Gallery and Irish Repertory Theater's Long Day's Journey Into Night. He was musical director of the vocal group The Tonics, conductor and orchestrator of Yoko Ono's musical New York Rock at the WPA Theatre, conductor and arranger of Michael John LaChiusa's The Petrified Prince, directed by Harold Prince, at the Public, and he orchestrated Andrew Lippa's john and jen at Lamb's Theatre. He has conducted and created arrangements for Liza Minelli, Tovah Feldshuh and Laurie Beechman. Brown was born in 1970 in Tarrytown, NY, and he studied at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. He resides in New York City.
I'd Give it All for You Songs of Jason Robert Brown (2003) Lauren Kennedy, Jason Robert Brown (piano and conductor) This is originally from Songs for a New World, which is really more of a song cycle (in the traditional classical sense, e.g. Schubert's Winterreise or Mahler's Knaben Wunderhorn) than a book musical. In his notes, Brown says, "I made a list of all the cool people Lauren could sing this with, but she told me her mother really thought I should sing it. I don't argue with Southern women."
Stars and the Moon Way Back to Paradise (1998) Audra McDonald, Jason Robert Brown (piano) Another gem from Songs for a New World, this time about the choices we make and the consequences. In some ways, it's an update of that old chestnut "A Bird in a Gilded Cage" without the sanctimony.
If I Told You Now Songs of Jason Robert Brown (2003) Lauren Kennedy, Jason Robert Brown (piano and conductor) This is the world premiere recording of this song. "When we were really under the gun", Brown writes, "and still short one song, I asked Lauren what she wanted to express emotionally that she hadn't yet addressed. She said, 'Doubt.' I was surprised to hear her say that, and relieved to get one more confirmation of the fact that, no matter how talented any of us may be, we all think we're frauds and on the verge of being found out. So I wrote this, which I hope expresses some of that ambivalence and anxiety I suspect we all feel in the face of a larger commitment."
How Can I Call This Home Parade (OC 1998) Brent Carver, Company Based on a true story, the plot of Parade is as follows: in 1913, Leo Frank, a Brooklyn-born Jew living in Georgia, is put on trial for the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan, a factory worker under his employ. Already guilty in the eyes of everyone around him, a sensationalist publisher and a janitor's false testimony seal Leo's fate. His only defenders are a governor with a conscience, and, eventually, his assimilated Southern wife who finds the strength and love to become his greatest champion. The show opened on December 17, 1998 at Lincoln Center and closed on February 28, 1999.
Pretty Music Songs of Jason Robert Brown (2003) Lauren Kennedy, Jason Robert Brown (piano and conductor) Originally from Parade, Brown gave this a new set of lyrics for this recording to "make it sound like a party in New Orleans."
You Don't Know This Man Way Back to Paradise (1998) Audra McDonald, Orchestra conducted by Eric Stern One more from Parade. This time it's Leo's wife repudiating the accusations made against her husband: "You don't know this man. / I don't think you could. / You don't have the right to know / A man that wise and good"


Acronyms and other mysteries defined:

OC: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Cast recording of a Broadway show, along with the date.

OS: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Soundtrack recording of a film, TV show, etc.


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