John Edwartowski is a pianist, improvisor, scholar, pedagogue, and composer. He earned B.A. (Music, 2004), and M.M. (Music Theory and Composition, 2013) degrees from Wayne State University, and a PhD (Music Theory, 2021) from the University of Michigan. He spent more than a decade as the Resident Musical Director for The Second City (Detroit) where he contributed to more than a dozen mainstage revues. He also served as an Instructor, Musical Director, and Accompanist for The Second City (Detroit) Training Center, and spent two years with The Second City’s “BoatCo,” sailing aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines vessels and performing for audiences across the Americas.
Edwartowski’s master’s thesis, “Filling the Gaps: Playing the Semiotic Network in the Extemporization of Scores for Improvised Theatre,” creates a framework for understanding the practice of musical direction for improvised theatre as the intersections of Commedia dell’arte, opera, melodrama, and film scoring. His PhD dissertation, “Guys & Dolls as a Fluid Text,” appropriates and repurposes editorial and adaptation theories to explore source materials, early drafts, the published libretto and score, and the screen adaptation of the Broadway musical, and offer the reader a critical examination of songs and characters from the show, a comparative reading of those songs and characters between its various iterations, and a framework for more broadly examining musical objects as fluid texts. Both documents form components of his ongoing research into improvisation and creativity.
Edwartowski has taught music theory (tonal and post-tonal), group piano, and ear training to both music majors and non-majors variously at Washtenaw Community College, Wayne State University, and the University of Michigan. While at WCC, he also led a student-driven performance ensemble, The Ad Hoc Orchestra, whose repertoire included Country, Rock, Soul, Metal, and Classical musics. He has also taught musical improvisation courses and workshops around the metropolitan Detroit area at The Second City (Detroit and Novi), Go! Comedy (Ferndale), and Planet Ant Theatre (Hamtramck).