"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.

Visit Lawrence Dillon's Web Site

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Our Town

Ned Rorem came to town this weekend, in the form of his new opera Our Town, based on the Thornton Wilder play. The work was co-commissioned and performed by our A. J. Fletcher Opera Institute. I caught the final dress rehearsal on Wednesday night.

Our Town is an overwhelmingly competent piece. Rorem is a master draftsman – he can conjure up a compelling musical moment with just a few deft strokes of the pen. Flipping through the score is a great lesson in musical economy: the simplest ideas are handled to the greatest possible effect.

In evidence throughout is a Ravellian love for every nuance of harmony, from the sweet pungencies of the “town” music to the parallel organum in the graveyard scene, and the bitter polychords that underscore some of the most despairing moments.

I wouldn’t be a composer if I didn’t feel like there were some things I would have done differently, but then I wouldn’t want to lead the life Rorem has led either, so there’s no reason to think I should want to write the same piece. He’s written the opera the way he should have written it, and we are all the better for his accomplishment.