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, February 02, 2005
Defining Territories

 height=In "On Significance in Music," (1942) long before the serialists overtook academia, philosopher Susanne Langer marvelled at the way that musical disagreements tended to take the form of dogma vs. heresy.

There was a time when I thought we might be beyond all of that, but Iím starting to hear more and more us-vs.-them divisiveness in the music world.

Many years ago I heard an audience member needle John Cage, trying to get him to say something negative about Milton Babbittís music. Cage deflected him several times, then, as close to exasperation as I ever saw him, said, "There are so many people in this world. Why canít Milton do what he wants to do, and Iíll do what I want to do?"

So I ask the same question: Isnít the music world big enough for all of us to do what we need to do? Canít we care deeply about what we do without insisting that there is no other possibility? What is it about music, that most ephemeral form of expression, that makes people behave so territorially?

Langer has an answer: ďWhenever people vehemently reject a proposition, they do so not because it simply does not recommend itself, but because it does, and yet its acceptance threatens to hamper their thinking in some important way. If they are unable to define the exact mischief it would do, they just call it degrading, materialistic, pernicious or any other bad name. Their judgment may be fuzzy, but the intuition they are trying to rationalize is right; to accept the opponentís proposition as it stands, would lead to unhappy consequences.Ē

I think she was right then and now. So when I hear someone making music that is foreign to my artistic needs, instead of coming up with derogatory names, I think Thank god s/heís doing that so I donít have to.

What do you think?