I’m thrilled to be writing a new experimental rock opera responding to the life of Polish composer and statesman, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, through a commission from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw as part of its larger Paderewski Musical Project. This piece has received additional development support from Tricklock Company and MASS MoCA.

MEMORY LAWS reflects on the life and work of Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941), the renowned composer/musician who served as the first Prime Minister of independent Poland. The structure of MEMORY LAWS is an album, a constellation, a collage of 81 vignettes (most extremely short, some slightly longer) that accumulate into a loose chronology of Paderewski’s life.

Each vignette is named for a woman who intersected with the person or the idea of Paderewski in some way. Some of these women knew Paderewski personally; some did not. Some were contemporaneous with Paderewski; some are still alive today. Looking at Paderewski from their many vantages brings up questions about independence and interdependence, about work and practice, about charisma and celebrity, about problems surrounding heroism and nationalism, about my and my collaborators’ personal relationships to Poland and to the United States, about who is remembered for what and why in the history books, about collective memory, and about what it means to reflect on the complicated figure that is Paderewski at this political moment.

Early work-in-progress has been shared at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater and Tricklock Company. We’ll be bringing more work-in-progress to Poland in Fall 2019, with a premiere slated for Albuquerque in Spring 2020.

Collaborators on this project currently include director Emily Mendelsohn (NY); composers/musicians Chris Hepola (MN) and Jenna Wyse (MN); dramaturg Theo Goodell (MN); performers Katy Houska (NM), Marya Jones (NM), and Elsa Menendez (NM); designers Dahveed Torres (NM), Zbigniew Bzymek (NY/PL), Andrew Maillet (NY/PL), and Bill Liotta (NM); choreography consultant Donna Jewel (NM); plus producer Juli Hendren (NM) and the extraordinary production crew at Tricklock Company (NM).

We’re also grateful for contributions from Crystal Myslajek (MN), Caitlin McDonough-Thayer (NY), Mia Ellis (NY), Karen Cellini (NY/MA), Jeanette Yew (NY), Hannah Kauffmann (NM), and Kyle Ruggles (NM) in the early stages of this project’s development.

Stay tuned to this page for project updates along the way!