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, March 30, 2005
Notes: Post-Concert

Itís been just over a week since the Russian premiere of Amadeus ex machina, and Iím finally getting around to an attempt to describe what happened after the concert.

First of all, the audience members were of all ages, from children to senior citizens, pretty evenly distributed, which is always nice to see.

After the applause for the Barber Violin Concerto died down, four of us assembled on stage for a post-concert talk: the conductor (Jeffrey Meyer), two composers (Sergei Slonimsky and me) and the violin soloist doubling as interpreter (Anastacia Khitruk).

A. Khitruk
Post-concert talks are practically unheard of in St. Petersburg, so none of us really knew what to expect. About thirty-five people stayed to ask questions. It was certainly an odd scene: an audience member would ask a question in Russian, Anastacia would translate it into English, I would take a crack at answering it, she would translate my response into Russian, then Sergei would give his answer. All of this would be fine, except Sergeiís answers were never translated into English, so I had no idea what he was saying. For all I knew, he was telling the audience that my answers were idiotic. At one point, I could tell he was talking about my piece, but I really had no way of telling what he was saying.


l. to r.: Khitruk, Meyer, Dillon, Slonimsky

One older gentleman in the front row held forth for a while, and I was able to get the gist of what he was asking. When Anastacia translated, my guess was confirmed. He said he wanted more American music, and not just the pretty stuff by Samuel Barber and Aaron Copland. He wanted Elliott Carter, and other challenging composers.

I thanked him for his sense of adventure. I said that there are so many people in the world who donít want to know about anything outside of their own experience, so the rest of us have to work extra hard to make challenging connections.


Afterwards, I was bewildered by the line of autograph seekers: people, young and old, who wanted me to sign their programs. Not a scene Iím used to in the States.

Later, I asked Anastacia what Sergei had been saying about my music. He seemed like a very pleasant man, and his piece, Symphony No. 8, was a striking concertino-for-orchestra with some truly beautiful moments.

Sergei Slonimsky with his uncle Nicolas (r.) and John Cage (c.)

Turns out he loved my piece, had a number of nice compliments, but completely misunderstood the title, telling the audience that Mozart was NOT a machine.

What should a composer say when appreciated for the wrong reasons?