"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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Monday, January 29, 2007

On Saturday night, my woodwind quintet Child’s Play was premiered here. I wrote about the piece when I completed it last August, and I’m happy with how it turned out. The concert hall was packed, but the occasion wasn’t my piece, it was the return of oboist Joe Robinson, who taught here in the mid-70s before becoming Principal Oboe of the NY Philharmonic. Joe has retired from the Phil and bought a home @80 miles east of here. He has pulled together an all-star ensemble to tour the state. My piece, along with the rest of the program, was repeated last night at Duke University, although I didn’t attend.

As happy as I am with my piece, the find of the concert for me was Ludwig Thuille’s Sextet for piano and winds. It’s a strong work from a contemporary of Richard Strauss. I had thought that Poulenc wrote the only listenable sextet for piano and winds, but this piece was outstanding: you can set it beside any work of Brahms – it was written at the same time as the latter’s C Minor Piano Trio and Double Concerto – and it will come across favorably.

I had never heard of Thuille before this concert, so I looked him up. Apparently this sextet is the only piece of his that is still performed. He seems to have focused mostly on chamber music and opera, fading from the scene at about the time that Strauss was becoming widely renowned. Doesn’t seem like he did much in his last 10 years, aside for teaching in Munich. He died in his mid-forties.

Wonderful to know that there are still great pieces from so long ago for me to discover.