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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Thursday, January 25, 2007
Blast

ICE left town Sunday evening, leaving behind a wintry mix and some deeply inspired musicians.

Okay, I know, the corny ICE puns are getting tired. I promise Iíll stop.

The highlight of their visit was the last event: a recording session of five works by student composers. Weíve had guest contemporary ensembles do reading sessions many times before, and they are all very helpful, but this one was extraordinary. Part of the reason is that weíve become better at organizing the sessions on our end, but a lot of it had to do with the commitment and skill of our guests. Each student came away with an outstanding recording, and a lot to think and talk about in the weeks to come.

The concert the night before was full of goodies. It started off with Steve Reichís Vermont Counterpoint, which is a piece Iíd enjoy more on recording than live, because you canít help trying to listen for the live flutist in all of the recorded flute counterpoint, which is a futile exercise. Elliott Carterís Esprit rude/esprit doux II is okay but not one of my favorites Ė as my wife says, it sounds a bit like Carter doing Carter, rather than a compelling work on its own merits.

But the rest of the concert was great, especially pieces by Huang Ruo and Franco Donatoni. Huang Ruoís: Concerto No. 3: Divergence is one of a series of pieces he has written for the ensemble. It has all of the things you would hope to hear in a young composer: fresh, vivid ideas, over-the-top theatrics, a couple of creative dead ends Ė things he probably benefited from trying once. And Donatoniís Arpege was full of arresting combinations and intricately woven games.

I have further thoughts on the concert that I hope to get to in a future post.

We also had two master classes, a round table lunch, a symposium and a number of informal encounters. About the only downer was the cancellation of their flight from Newark, which meant they arrived late and we had to compress some of their activities. Continental said the cancellation was due to weather, but Iím suspicious, because I was under the impression that we always have weather. Itís clear to me that the airline is involved in some kind of a conspiracy against new music.