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, July 26, 2006
Fragmenting

The following is the sixth part of a chronicle I am keeping on the composition of my second symphony. Part One is here, Two is here, Three is here, Four is here and Five is here.

Okay, hereís where I am now.

All through the initial planning phases and drafts of this piece, I was figuring that the spoken-text movement would either come last or next to last. I came up with several ways to make this arrangement work effectively, but I felt unsatisfied with each of them, all for the same reason: they all fell into comfortable patterns with all-too-recognizable antecedents in the traditional literature. I was left with a subtle but unmistakable mismatch between the nature of the text and the nature of its presentation. I was also faced with the prospect of working on a piece that wasnít going to challenge me very much.

Then, about ten days ago, it occurred to me to break up the text. Structurally, the poem (which you can read here) falls into three parts. I realized I could focus each movement on a different stanza of the text.

At this point, Iím working through various versions involving three movements. Each movement begins with very sparse instrumental music underlying one stanza of the text. Each movement then strikes off in a different direction.

So far, every scenario Iíve come up with has strengths and weaknesses, but they all have one thing in common: there is no conventional way to work out all of the ramifications set up by the way they begin.

And thatís just the way I want it: Iím completely on my own.