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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Friday, October 17, 2008
Big sister

I have a sister who is sixteen years older than I am. Anyone who has had a sibling that much older knows how imposing such a figure can be in a childís life. To me, growing up, my sister was beautiful, brilliant and powerful. I donít remember when, in my youth, I first realized something was not quite right with her.

At various times over the years, my sister has disowned me. By disowned, I mean that she has ceased communication. Iím about five years deep into the latest freeze-out, and I confess it is a bit of a relief not to have to deal with her Ė she is not an easy person to communicate with under the best of circumstances.

The exact nature of her illness is a bit of a mystery, but she certainly has a deep well of loathing, which manifests itself in a narrow and stringent form of Catholicism. Thus the freeze-outs, when she decides someone has done something to punch a ticket to eternal damnation, something that threatens to contaminate her if she has any contact.

In much of her interaction with the world, she maintains a child-like, glued-on cheerfulness, which can suddenly peel off into a startling rage.

Today she turns sixty-five, and I shudder when I realize I havenít seen her since she was in her fifties. Emaciated from a punishing diet and denial of any physical pleasures, she was a sad ghost of her youthful self then. I canít imagine what she looks like now.

I think about her often, because the difficulty I have comprehending her is tied inextricably with the difficulty I have understanding myself Ė which, of course, fuels the music I write. I wonder if I should try to be more proactive in resuming communication, as frustrating as it can be, for the sake of maintaining a connection that somehow helps define who I am.

But in some ways itís easier to bundle up and wait out the freeze.

Happy birthday, big sis.