Lawrence Dillon@Sequenza21.com

"There are no two points so distant from one another that they cannot be connected by a single straight line -- and an infinite number of curves."

Composer Lawrence Dillon has produced an extensive body of work, from brief solo pieces to a full-length opera. Three disks of his music are due out in 2010 on the Bridge, Albany and Naxos labels. In the past year, he has had commissions from the Emerson String Quartet, the Cassatt String Quartet, the Mansfield Symphony, the Boise Philharmonic, the Salt Lake City Symphony, the Ravinia Festival, the Daedalus String Quartet, the Kenan Institute for the Arts, the University of Utah and the Idyllwild Symphony Orchestra.

Although he lost 50% of his hearing in a childhood illness, Dillon began composing as soon as he started piano lessons at the age of seven. In 1985, he became the youngest composer to earn a doctorate at The Juilliard School, and was shortly thereafter appointed to the Juilliard faculty. Dillon is now Composer in Residence at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he has served as Music Director of the Contemporary Ensemble, Assistant Dean of Performance, and Interim Dean of the School of Music. He was the Featured American Composer in the February 2006 issue of Chamber Music magazine.


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Wednesday, January 12, 2005
misunderstood genius

Strange article in the last New Yorker magazine -- Iím just getting to it now, itís been a busy week of reading -- about George Gershwin. The magazine is justly praised for its thorough, sensible studies of famous figures from the past, essays that give fresh insights into the strengths and weaknesses of people who have helped shape the way we view ourselves and our world.

But this article was different. Gushing from beginning to end, the writer portrayed Gershwin in the most simplistic manner: the poor, misunderstood genius who was destroyed by the evil classical establishment. She seems to have dug through every negative comment ever made about the man and his music, and brought back the juiciest bits in order to make her case.

Iím not denying that GG was criticized by some in his day -- nobody is going to achieve the kind of wealth and fame he found overnight without getting a fair share of potshots from the rest of the profession. But for every one of those sour grapes, there were extraordinary compliments paid -- see Ravel and Schoenberg, for example.

None of this is a knock on Gershwin, of course -- he did what he did better than anyone else, and that is cause for celebration. Iím just tired of the stuffy classical music establishment stereotype -- people keep using it to promote popular culture, and popular culture just doesnít need that kind of help.