You have to do it. You're an artist.

by Alicia Anstead

Composer Diedre Murray took a break Sunday between performances of Best of Both Worlds [in previews at the Loeb Drama Center] to chat about her life as an artist. The show is Randy Weiner's musical version of Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale set in a world of black American R&B, gospel and jazz. Diane Paulus, the show's co-writer and director [and artistic director of American Repertory Theater] called Murray a "national treasure" last night. Murray will be talking more about working and living as an artist for the OFA Learning from Performers Program, 3 p.m. Monday (TODAY!) at New College Theater, 10-12 Holyoke Street, Cambridge. The event is free and open to the public.

Have you ever been in Cambridge before?

Many years ago. At a Hasty Pudding event. Half naked men were running at the stage.

What's it like for you working here? Cambridge is very different from New York City.

It has been a lot of fun and a lot of work. But the primary work was done in my home, where I keep it serene.

Why do you do this work?

You have to do it. That's part of being an artist. You have to get it out.

Where does music live in you?

I believe I have music going on all the time. I navigate the world through sound. It never stops. As I've gotten older, I've been able to put a shield down to stop it from coming constantly.

When did you know you were an artist?

No, no, no, no, no! When I was 3 or 4, I started crying to my parents: "I have to have melody bells." I think I was born this way.

What's it like working with Diane Paulus?

Diane is fierce. We're birds of a feather. We're improvisationally oriented. We want to keep on going at it and going at it until we get it right.

You did this show several years ago with Paulus. How's it going for you this time?

It's beginning to sound the way I want it to sound.

[Caption: Once you hear Diedre Murray's score to the musical "Best of Both Worlds," you'll know why she's smiling. ]