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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Saturday, January 29, 2005
Blown Away

As I noted here, I usually have three pieces Iím working on at any given moment. Typically, one of those pieces will be playful in nature; itís important to me to keep a healthy balance between serious reflection and expressive exuberance.

Iím waist-deep in a very exuberant piece right now, a composition for wind ensemble entitled Blown Away. A number of years ago, my colleague James Kalyn, who directs the NC School of the Arts Wind Ensemble, asked me to write something for his group. I declined, partly because I had just begun work on an opera and a string quartet cycle and felt a bit overwhelmed, and partly because writing for wind ensemble had little appeal for me at the time.

But this past summer, I stepped down as Interim Dean here, and with that decision I had a newfound creative energy. I couldnít wait to take on fresh compositional challenges, and writing for wind ensemble was at the top of my list.

Just after I had decided to write this piece, I learned that James would be leaving the school at the end of the year: his wife, musicologist Andrea Kalyn, had just been appointed Associate Dean at Oberlin Conservatory. So Blown Away became a fond (but certainly unsentimental) farewell piece, a tribute to what James has accomplished here. It will be premiered in May.

The fun part has been exploring the challenges and benefits of writing for this ensemble. Itís great to have a rich bed of saxophones to serve as a foundation for dramatic shifts in color. The possibilities of percussion combinations seem endless. And the fact that virtually every gesture originates with the human breath is both a limitation and an exhilarating resource -- I love the shape, exertion, fragility, power, elusiveness, ephemerality, symbolism, necessity and unconsciousness of human breath. I canít wait until they find a way to put all of those things into midi.