"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.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Eb minor. Clarinet: A – A – Db. Sing it. No, second A longer. Two beats, three beats longer. Sing. Better. Next? Slower. 7/8. Cello on the bass, piano in double octaves up high, quiet. One measure. Two measures? Yes. Bring back harmonies from the beginning. A little faster, still quiet. Clarinet alternating high and low sixteenths. No: too much too soon. Save it. Move on – figure out the clarinet later. Piano is moving – where? Take over the bass. Four different chords in this bar, then two in the next. Here comes the clarinet. Is this the right moment? Forget it, check the timing later. Move on. Clarinet: F# -- B – E – F. Sing. Maybe. Now the same thing a little faster. Vary it later. Still quiet. Need a different harmony here: too predictable. Mark the spot, move on. No, back up, sing the whole passage. Run through in double time. Pacing, pacing, ignore the details.
Clarinet still comes in too soon. Push it back to the next bar. Try again, not quite double time, but still fast. Ignore ignore ignore the details, just get the timing right.
That will work. Now fill in. Run through again at half speed, imagining every detail. Tough to hear this spacing. Try again. Okay, that’s right. Now the next beat. The rhythm dies here, just for a moment. No good. Maybe it’s the bar before. Where you are is only half the battle, the rest is how you got there. Try again, try again. Half speed.
This chord is a little empty. Needs to be richer. Subvert the overtones, then confirm them. Appoggiatura in the inner voice. Nice. Brilliant!
Brilliant? No, not good enough. Try again.
God, look at the time.
Don’t look at the time.
Viola leads, violins underneath. Concealed pattern emerges, then folds back into texture. Off-kilter pulsations in the cello. Now loud, suddenly. Needs an eingang in the viola. That should do it. Fine. Compare to page three. Ah, forgot about that double-stop. Rethink. How important is it? Sing. Again.
Seems pretty important – not ignorable. Like maybe it could expand into something new. Grab it, ride it, improvise, listen.
Okay, back to page 12. Concealed pattern emerges, then folds back into texture. Off-kilter pulsations in the cello. Now loud, suddenly. And double-stop. And again. And again. Obsessive! How important is it? Can’t ignore it now.
Phone. Hello? No. No. No. Can I get back to you? Thanks, bye.
Time to switch pieces again.
Back to the clarinet. F# -- B – E – F. Sing. Try these harmonies on the piano? Not yet. Just listen inside. Listen to it at half speed. Listen. Listen. Okay, here it gets a bit stodgy rhythmically. Goose the bass line, too repetitive. Sharpen the pencil, fill in the inner voices. Cello pizz, easy. Not too much. Nice.
E Major? Sure, why not. Recitation tone. Make it hang, hang, hang. Chords change beneath. Regular, then irregular. Spinning, dizzy. Then fly away into cello harmonics. Too much piano – only need a whisper. Forget the eraser, just cross it out. That’s it. Now float, float, float. And gently land.
Got it got it got it.
Got it got it got it got it got it.
Now, how about that empty chord?
Ooh, look at the time.