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, July 23, 2009
Cool Night

Iíve just about finished my fifth quartet, so now Iím taking a couple of weeks off from it to begin sketching Cool Night, the third installment of my Schumann Trilogy. I love doing this Ė getting a piece just about done, then setting it aside for a while to work on something else. When I come back to the quartet in August, I will be ruthless. Time away gives me the distance I need to make sure I havenít become so familiar with every aspect of the piece that Iíve lost sight of the parts that donít quite fit.

Writing Cool Night is a bit of an adventure for me. One of the characters is voiced by two people Ė a tenor and an actor. Iíve always known this would be the case, from when I first conceived of the Trilogy, but I was never sure why I needed a singer and an actor, or how exactly they would share the text.

Now Iím discovering how to make it happen, phrase by phrase. Itís a strange puzzle, to be sure. Just to give a sense of what Iím up against, hereís an excerpt of the text, a dialogue between Florestan and Eusebius over Robert Schumannís deathbed:
F: When the dance concludes, I will remove my mask and reveal who I really am.

E: Who you are! You will remove one mask and find another.

F: That may be so. But the mask will come off, and then another, and another.

E: You have more masks than time.

F: Yes, I have more masks than time. But they will come off, not to reveal, but to revel in the removal. I will be verb, not noun. I will be action. I will be masks removing, one by one.

E: You will be masks removing. You will be me.

F: You? No, we are not the same. I am verb, you are noun.

E: I am noun, you are verb. But we are the same. We shed the chrysalis, only to find another.

F: And another.

E: And another. Together, we are half as much.

F: Yes, together, we are half as much. And yet, apart, we are nothing. We hear nothing in the cool night.
To make things stranger, although Cool Night is the third part of the trilogy, Iím sketching it first. Donít know why, just seems like the right thing to do.

Of course, if it turns out to be the wrong thing to do, I can always start over. About the only thing I love more than starting a new piece is starting over.