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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Sunday, September 17, 2006
The Benefits of Multi-Tasking

Iíve written before about my practice of working on several pieces at once. Some readers could conclude that the pieces I write under those circumstances would all sound alike, but quite the opposite is true.

Working on several pieces at once helps me resist the urge to put too many eggs into each basket. Rather than using everything I know in each piece, I am able to clearly define what each piece should be about, in contrast to the others Iím working on. If one piece is primarily lyrical and another is more theatrical, I can turn my attention to the one that I feel best able to make progress on at the moment.

It also keeps me from working too quickly on any given piece. I like to compose a given passage, then set it aside to look at the next day, after Iíve had a chance to sleep on it, rather than pushing forward immediately. Sleeping on an idea or passage gives me a clarity and perspective I donít have in the initial stage. If I work on passages from different pieces on any given day, I have several things to come back to the next day.

Generally speaking, I have three compositions going at once: a piece in its initial stages, one that I am well into, and one that is getting its final refinements. At least, thatís the way Iíd like to have it under ideal circumstances. Naturally, the real world imposes all kinds of unforeseens that push and pull on the creative process for one piece or another. But when I hit that balance of three pieces at three distinct stages of completion Ė well, thatís when my work proceeds most smoothly, and Ė more importantly Ė thatís when I get the best results.