"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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Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Competition Judge

I’m judging a competition sponsored by the London Symphony Orchestra and Notion Music this summer. The other two judges are John Corigliano and Carter Burwell – I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know Burwell’s name until I looked him up and found out he is huge in Hollywood, having scored many of the Coen Bros. films, among many other credits.

Anyway, I’ve been sent ten scores, the finalists, along with a CD of realizations using Notion software, which uses samples of the London Symphony Orchestra for its sound library. Instead of being asked to pick a winner, I’ve been asked to rank the ten pieces in order of preference.

Creating these rankings really puts me in a tight spot, as far as measuring my own priorities as a composer. For example, in the middle of the pack I have one work that has some really terrific ideas but serious notation and orchestration issues, and another piece that is all cliché from beginning to end, but the most technically polished of the bunch. Which one will be number five, and which one will be number six?

A personal peeve is the ridiculously high horn writing in almost all of the finalists’ scores. But who is to blame them? A computerized horn can hit a hundred high Cs over the course of ten minutes without blinking. But I definitely wouldn’t want to be in the room when the fourth horn player in the LSO attempts the same.