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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Thursday, June 04, 2009
Wisdom of Perle

Caught Da Capo Chamber Players Monday night in Merkin Hall. The program was called Direct Current and featured pieces that blend electronic sound and acoustic instruments. Very different atmosphere from the Bang on a Can marathon the day before Ė much smaller audience, but everyone was there to listen. Which do I prefer? Iím glad to have both. Keeps my ears on their toes.

The following morning, Merkin was packed for a tribute to the late George Perle. I never knew Perle personally, and Iíve had only had passing acquaintance with his music, which occupies a tonal landscape that had little attraction for me in my student days. I could only stay for the first half, but the highlights were frequent and very high. Particularly potent: Leon Fleisher ascending to the stage from the audience to play Brahmsís arrangement for left hand of the Bach Chaconne in D Minor. Itís a version Iíve enjoyed picking at with two hands, but apart from the superior technical facility Fleisher brought to bear, the sound he was getting from the instrument was just spectacular.

Of the three spoken tributes I heard, Paul Lanskyís memories of an undergraduate theory class at Queens taught by the young Perle were the most amusing and touching.

And the discovery of the program was Perleís Six Celebratory Inventions, performed by pianist Michael Brown. Clever, understated, witty Ė top-drawer stuff.

Aside from that, it was bracing to look around the audience and see a roll-call of new musicís old guard. Theyíve been kicked around a lot for the last thirty years, so I was happy to see them having a well-deserved moment to share with one another. And I was thankful that the remarkable man George Perle seems to have been made it possible for me to see them gathered.



I was sorry, though, that I had to miss the Daedalus Quartet performance, which came last. But I made up for it by rehearsing with them, along with Benjamin Hochman, yesterday afternoon. I got soaked walking in a downpour from the A-train to the rehearsal, but their preparation and enthusiasm quickly made me feel all warm and cozy. Tomorrow weíll head to the Academy to record, before I catch a late-night flight back to North Carolina.