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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Monday, April 25, 2005
Beyond Music

Paging Ken Russell: Listomania has overtaken the Composers Forum page. Iím beginning to regret my little contribution to this phenomenon.

So on to another topic: Taking a page from Tom Myron, Jerry asked what other art forms or disciplines have had the biggest impact on our composing. For me there is no hesitation: literature has been a defining force in the way I think about my work. In fact, I could break down my artistic influences in the following manner:

Literature (plays, novels, poetry, etc.): 65%
Film: 20%
Visual arts (painting, sculpture, etc.): 10%
Other (dance, architecture, etc.) 5%

This is not to say that I have any less respect or love for great dance, paintings or architecture (please donít send me your indignations -- if you do, you are missing the point). I just find that these art forms have a less direct influence on how I think about composing. And I think those proportions are an undiscussed aspect of compositional style: I know I have colleagues who are heavily influenced by the plastic arts, and their music is different from mine in a way that reflects those different influences.

And therein lies a huge part of the lack of comprehension we often have for one anotherís work. Some music is narrative-driven, some is design-driven, etc. Vincent Persichetti once told me that all music is dance, and while I loved the man and respect his work, that connection to dance is not one I immediately warm up to, so it requires an extra effort for me to lose myself in his music. Not that Iím incapable of appreciating it, but I need to step farther outside of myself to find his center.

Do you think this is an important distinction? Or do you find it irrelevant? I wonder, if we are able to articulate these influences in this manner, how it might help or hinder others in appreciating what we do. I know of several specific instances where I was able to grasp another composerís art more readily once I understood his/her non-musical influences.

Can you assign percentages to your non-musical influences?