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, November 25, 2006
Live Or.....

According to the Times, there were about two thousand empty seats when the Knicks played in Madison Square Garden on Monday night. Iím attributing their poor attendance to the great turnout we had in Elebash Hall for the first Sequenza21 concert. I hope all the other composers are as happy with their share of the box office take as I am.

Iíve noted this before, and Iíve been surprised that more people donít agree with me: some pieces are more vivid in live performance, others work better on recording. I donít see this as a positive or a negative either way, just as a fact. I always decide at the outset when a piece I am working on will be better served in one medium than the other.

I decided early on that Singing silver, with its mix of amplified and acoustic elements, would fare a bit better on recording than live, and composed it accordingly. Not to say it canít be performed live Ė after all, I just performed it -- but the intimacy of a recording will bring all of the details home in a way that is very difficult to match on stage. Iíve scheduled two more performances of the piece, but its ultimate destiny is on a set of speakers.

Why, if Iím planning to have a piece exist primarily through recording, do I schedule live performances? Because live performances give me the opportunity to reach a complete understanding of the piece, without which a recording is bound to sound a bit sterile. I wish I could explain it more clearly than that, but I donít think I can, at least not yet.

Ironically, the pieces of mine that get the most live performances are often the ones that fare better on recording. Performers hear a recording of something that sounds fantastic and decide to program it, ending up a bit disappointed by the results on stage. Conversely, I have pieces that donít get performed much even though they are really killer in a live performance, simply because people canít fully grasp their impact through sample recordings. Iím having a harder and harder time finding people who will actually look at a score and make decisions about how a piece is going to sound. Everyone seems to want a recording, and nobody is giving enough attention to the disparity between the experience of listening to a recording and the experience of attending a concert.