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, May 24, 2008
Blossom

In my last post, I wrote of a commission that was likely but not certain its come through, and its quite an interesting commission, both because of the piece I am going to write and because of how I am going to be compensated for my work.

The commission is coming from the Cassatt String Quartet, a wonderful ensemble Ive worked with before they premiered and recorded my Furies and Muses for bassoon and string quartet. They have a residency in Texas next January. They have asked me to write a triple quartet for them to play with two high school quartets. I see this as a really fascinating challenge first of all to write a piece that has twelve equal parts, but also to match up musicians of first-rate skills with other musicians who can be expected to play well for their age.

The piece I am working on is called Blossom. Running 6-8 minutes, it will provide the young string players with age-appropriate challenges, while giving them the rare opportunity to play side-by-side with established professionals. Blossom is also an opportunity for me to put my experience as a teacher -- my love for the magical symbiosis between master and apprentice -- into music.

Blossom will begin with a single note passed around the ensemble, from teacher to student and back again. As the note is passed around, various players will introduce embellishments, gradually taken up by the entire ensemble, until the seed of an idea blossoms into full-fledged theme, unfolding into rich counterpoint by the end.

As for the compensation, Cassatt is working on raising funds for my fee, but because of the short turnaround time and the general tightness of the economy, I suggested another option: if they are unable to come up with the money, I will write Blossom in exchange for their doing a studio recording of another piece of mine. In other words, bypass the cash-strapped economy and deal directly with one another in a barter system. Its a model I think I may turn to more frequently in the future.

Kind of appeals to my Medieval inner child.