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, February 12, 2006
Mixing It Up

This year, as Ive reported before, our composition department is focusing on interdisciplinary collaborations. Back in November, we gave the students the assignment of putting together a collaborative performance with some other art form on the first Saturday of February. We gave them no guidelines, no rules, and no assistance this was all supposed to happen on their initiative, in addition to the work they were doing for composition lessons. All we did was provide a space and a block of time for rehearsal and performance.

The results were evidenced last Saturday. As might be expected, some composers hatched grandiose plans and others played it safe. One composer collaborated with a filmmaker on a brief documentary. One took a painting as inspiration for a flute and cello duo. Two others created electronic pieces that were choreographed by dance students. One enlisted the assistance of actors and designers in a political performance piece. And one joined forces with lighting designers, took over a room for an entire day and created a light and sound installation.

As I try to remind the students as often as possible, artistic success or failure while in school is not so important. Their primary responsibility is to learn. If a student puts on an artistically successful performance, but learns nothing from it, I consider it a failure. On the other hand, if a student tries something new that doesnt work, it is a success to the degree that the student learns something to be applied in future efforts.

Having said that, I think all of the students involved learned something and, for the most part, what they learned was in direct proportion to how much they invested in the process. Were discussing the results and assessing what was accomplished. Im looking forward to repeating this experiment on a regular basis in the future.