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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Monday, December 01, 2008
Oldies - but are they goodies?

Got a note from a cellist looking for solo pieces to record for an upcoming CD. He wants to know if I have written any unaccompanied cello pieces.

I almost wrote him back saying I hadnít, but then I gave it another momentís thought and remembered I had three:
Dele 3: Independividual (1978)
Monody (1988)
Assault, assuage, assimilate (1992)
When I was nineteen, I wrote a cycle of pieces that took well-known masterworks and removed a majority of the voices, testing the limits of their coherence. I called them ďdecompositions,Ē and thought them quite witty and fascinating, in a conceptual way. Independividual was the third of these pieces; it consists of the bottom voice of the B Major fugue from Bachís WTC I. I believe it was only performed once, by bassist Robert Black.

There was a time when I would have been horrified to have anyone know these pieces existed. Now, I find them interesting again Ė partly because they are so shamelessly sophomoric.

Ten years later, I wrote Monody, which consists almost entirely of double-stops Ė the G-string sustained throughout, while a freely modal melody meanders over the entire length of the D-string. The cellist who premiered it hated it, possibly for good reason, although he wasnít exactly a patient man.

Then came Assault, assuage, assimilate, a deliberately provocative title. Ass3, as I like to think of it, has never been performed and, in fact, should not be performed Ė itís a piece that should only be recorded. Itís for seven cellos, all recorded by one performer. A solo cello begins with an abrasive, repetitive figure; the others enter one by one, gradually enfolding the aggressive line into a warm embrace.

So today I will respond to this cellistís request, but I havenít yet decided what to tell him. Options:
1. I donít have any solo cello pieces.
2. My solo cello pieces are all very old and no longer represent my compositional thinking.
3. I have three solo cello pieces: Independividual, Monody and Assault, assuage, assimilate. Would you be interested in one of them?
If I take the third option, Iíll be obliged to dig through the cobwebs to see if I can actually find them, a prospect I have little patience for. Which will I do? Gotta decide today.