"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.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
This is the third anniversary of an infinite number of curves – time to take a look back at the last 12 months. I always seem to get a perverse pleasure out of doing this several weeks later than everyone else.
Premiere of my new woodwind quintet Child’s Play at Duke University and the North Carolina School of the Arts by Ensemble I-40. I heard the first performance but missed the second. Child’s Play is a lark -- an attempt to create a light-hearted piece that reflects the strengths of the woodwind quintet ensemble. It was fun to work with musicians of this caliber, especially Igor Begelman and David Jolley, with whom I've worked before, and Joseph Robinson, with whom I was working for the first time.
• Performances of Wright Flight by the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra. One of the actors created some amusing cartoons on his MySpace page, which I'm sampling here.
• Premiere of Mister Blister at the New World Symphony Forum Concert -- Mister Blister was written for Violin Futura, Piotr Szewczyk's baby. He commissioned a bunch of two-minute pieces from a variety of composers and played them all over last season -- I think he's playing them again next month in Santa Fe.
• MusicNow Fest at Eastern Michigan University; performances of Amadeus ex machina, Big Brothers, Blown Away, Façade, Furies and Muses. I had to give a speech, which is not my specialty, but otherwise, the three-day festival was a real pleasure.
Guest lecture at Seisen International School in Tokyo. I spent a week in Japan -- my first trip to Asia. Fascinating, fascinating, fascinating. Unlike any of my travels to Latin America or Europe. I've tried, but I'll never find a way to adequately describe my experience.
Performance of Singing Silver at the North Carolina School of the Arts. This was take two: the first performance was on the Sequenza21 concert in New York. For this second performance, I had much more control over the balances and look of the piece, which helped a lot with the results. Mostly I love this piece because it stretches me into unfamiliar territory, which always makes me feel a hair smarter.
Piotr strikes again, performing Mister Blister at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Furies and Muses featured at the International Double Reed Conference in Ithaca, NY. The performance was organized by Jeff Keesecker. I was very disappointed not to be able to attend; I hadn't seen Jeff since we recorded the piece about five years ago. He reported that it went very well. I was deeply ensconced in composing four new works for fall premieres.
Child's Play featured on the 2007 Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music of the Bowdoin International Music Festival. Another performance I was sorry to miss.
Exploring my love for spoken rhythms.
Premiere of Still Point. A highlight for the year, in terms of, once again, taking me out of my comfort zone and forcing me to stretch. This was the first time I had set someone else's words to music in over twenty years. The premiere took place in the living room of a friend; the second performance came two weeks later. Interestingly, the published version is selling well already.
Premieres of Entrance, Exit and Dark Circles on an all-Dillon concert at the North Carolina School of the Arts. This concert was a tremendous consummation for me: I had been dreaming of mounting a performance like this, with a theatrical format for my music, for ten years. I got everything I wanted out of it, especially some scintillating performances.
Announcement of Schumann Trilogy Consortium Commission. I'm very excited about this commission, because it gives me a chance to pull together so many of my interests, on a scale I've seldom had access to.
2007 will also go down in history as the year I was mistaken for:
- Frankenstein's monster.
- My two-year-old's big brother.
- Both of the above.
The correct answer is number three, of course.
That's it for 2007. Now here’s my annual, heartfelt thank-you to Jerry Bowles for hosting another year of these random ruminations. I hope you all have a richly rewarding 2008.