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, April 14, 2007
NYWW5

We致e got the New York Woodwind Quintet in residence this weekend. They池e playing a new piece called Metallaxis by Evis Sammoutis, a twenty-seven-year-old Greek composer and guitarist now living in England. Sammoutis has won a bunch of prizes at an early age, so I知 very curious. Apparently Metallaxis is a fiesta of extended techniques.

Another piece I値l be interested in hearing is a quintet by Pavel Haas, the promising young Czech composer whose life was cut short in Auschwitz.

I知 looking forward to meeting the quintet musicians, each of whom I致e admired for a long while: Carol Wincenc, flute; Stephen Taylor, oboe; Charles Neidich, clarinet; Marc Goldberg, bassoon; William Purvis, horn. As soon as I finish typing, I知 off to the airport to pick up three of them.

Meanwhile, on the homefront, our orchestra spent two-and-a-half hours this week rehearsing and recording a new piece by Felix Ventouras, a student of mine. The piece is called Murder, Hope of Woman, after an early 20th-century play by the Austrian expressionist Oskar Kokoschka. The play is histrionic and nightmarish; the music is appropriately vivid.

And on Thursday night, another student of mine, James Stewart, gave a recital of his music. James has extraordinarily diverse skills: besides composing, he conducted one piece and sang another. Each piece had its fine points, but there were two in particular that deserve mention. The Cry, for guitar and mezzo, set the words 的 am hungry, mama, in several dozen languages from around the world. The piece begins with settings in the languages most distant from English, gradually working its way into European languages, concluding with a plaintive, whispered setting of the words in English. The music is lovely, and the concept is a haunting reminder that hunger knows no political boundaries.

The other piece was Perfectly American, which weaves together the actual words of George Bush, both Clintons, and other prominent political figures to point out their subtle inconsistencies and blatant hypocrisies. The piece is both funny and disturbing, and James sang it with gusto.