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, March 04, 2006
Where Sound and Thought Meet

Robert Carl was in the neighborhood last week for the premiere of his saxophone quartet Where Sound and Thought Meet, so we brought him by to talk with our students.

Iíve known Robert for about 20 years, but this was my first opportunity to spend an extended amount of time with him. Heís a wonderful conversationalist Ė witty, erudite, and down-to-earth. He played a recording for us of his String Quartet No. 2: Fear of Death/Love for Life, which is from 2001. The piece is in three movements; the outer movements trace the juxtaposition of the title, and the inner movement serves as a connection and reflection of its partners.

The students were crowded around the only score, so I wasnít able to see it, but the piece has a very strong profile that is easy to recall. The first movement features wrenching harmonies, with twisting, overlapping glissandos that feel agonizingly like skin being slowly torn apart. The third movement begins with a rapid-fire, two-note motive that feeds a steadily developing rhythmic frenzy.

When I asked him about his harmonic language, he went over to the piano to play a recent etude for us that demonstrated some of his current interests. A supermodal melody centering around D in the inner voice functioned as a cantus firmus. Bass notes were chosen that have that D in their overtone series, while also matching up with subsidiary tones in the melody. Every slight adjustment in the melody spawned a host of new partials circling the central line. The result is a harmonic world that connects to the melody in a way that sounds both fresh and yet logical. Crossed with Carlís elegant sense of rhythm and registral interplay, the music manages to be both captivating and strangely soothing.

Robert was a great guest: gently challenging the students, answering their questions honestly, covering a wide range of topics from the sublime to the ridiculous. Be sure to keep an eye out for him if he comes to your neighborhood.