usw | in the words of the composer
USW is a multi-layered work that is based abstractly around the life and social conditions of the Polish / German socialist Rosa Luxemburg in the context of the rise and fall of the German Social Democratic Movement between 1890 - 1919.
The musical textures and sound materials are reflective of both the cutting edge of new concepts in instrumental idiom and new ideas of musical-theatrical blending. Arranged in four scenes, the text for the work consists of fragmentary passages in multiple languages from works by Luxemburg (including scholarly work, speeches, and letters), from prominent socialists in the 19th century (including Marx, Engels, Jaurès, and others), and poets from around the turn of the 20th century (including Trakl, Freiligrath, and F. Scott Fitzgerald).
The stage action, however, is mutable and, while staging possibilities are indicated, engages the active collaboration of a stage director who can put together a dynamic progression of events that possess an identity compatible with and complementary to the musical shape; that is, there is a back story to the work but there is no necessity (nor desire on my part) to portray it in reality. Video images are also employed and, in the current production, complement the music and stage action but in a non-linear, non-specific manner, and in highly alienated form.
- Lewis Nielson