"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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Thursday, January 27, 2005

I spent a lot of time last weekend with pianist Claude Frank, who was in town to play a recital. I’ve known Claude for about fifteen years, and I always look forward to conversations with him. He is a witty, charming, and very observant fellow.

 height=This time, conversation was a bit more difficult; the death of his wife, pianist Lillian Kallir, this past fall had clearly left its mark. It was tough to see him feeling low.

As usual, though, we spent a lot of time talking about music. One would think that we should have almost nothing to say to one another on this subject: in Claude’s world, music peaked with Beethoven and has been in steady decline ever since. Naturally, I have a very different perspective.

And yet I always find our exchanges fascinating. In some ways, I prefer to talk about music with someone whose perspective is very different from mine. Rather than being aggravating, I find it helps me clarify my viewpoint, and it reminds me how subjective music is.

I like to think that this characteristic would make me a very bad president.

In Emerson’s words: “Shall I tell you the secret of a true scholar? It is this: every man I meet is my master in some point, and in that I learn of him.”

I can’t speak for scholars, but if I’m going to have to spend the rest of my life with myself, I’d just as soon welcome some sharply dissenting voices into my head from time to time, if only to fend off tedium.