"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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Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Half-day in Houston

I’m in Manhattan for the NY premiere of Still Point tonight – concert info here. Last night I saw Jane Fonda playing a musicologist (ain't typecasting grand?) at the Eugene O’Neill Theater in the opening preview of Moises Kaufman's Thirty-three Variations. But now I’m writing about the second leg in my trip last weekend – part one was here.

Part two was Houston, where I spent twelve hours, half of them asleep. I visited an old friend, Bob Yekovich, and he was able to give me a quick, after-hours tour of his baby, the Shepherd School of Music.

Shepherd – need I say it? – has quickly become one of the top music schools in the country in just thirty years of existence. As part of Rice University, it is extremely well-funded. The facilities are second to none -- Ida Kavafian had warned me that Curtis could fit in the Shepherd lobby. We ducked our heads into Duncan Recital Hall (below), catching the last movement of a Prokofiev violin sonata, eavesdropped on a few Opera Scenes in the Wortham Opera Theater, and strolled through the empty Stude Concert Hall, the orchestral venue – all without leaving the enormous Alice Pratt Brown building.

Duncan Recital Hall

Bob took over Shepherd in 2003, after a dozen years of running the North Carolina School of the Arts. When he left UNCSA, I became Interim Dean for one year, and quickly learned what a preposterously difficult job it is to dean a school. Every day featured urgent requests from students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff, other administrators, legislators, donors and members of the community. Prioritizing them was an impossible task, since all of these people felt like their needs warranted immediate response – as, indeed, they did.

So let’s put it this way: before 2003 I disdained people who were in charge, figuring they were just big egos lording it over the rest of us. Now I really sympathize with them. It’s enough of a challenge to be in charge of the things I have to do, without having to answer to so many other people’s needs.

All of these thoughts came to mind as Bob described some of the blessings and curses of his position. He loves what he does, and I admire him for how much he has accomplished.

So here’s a pitch for the Shepherd School. Anyone out there with $50 million to spend, send them a check – they need to build a new opera house.