"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

Blogs I Like

Saturday, January 17, 2009
something old, something nu

The nu ensemble gave a concert in our Watson Hall on Tuesday night. Ransom Wilson conducted four works: Steve Reich’s Eight Lines, John Adams’ Gnarly Buttons, Cindy McTee’s The Twittering Machine and John Orfe’s Oyster.

nu isn’t exactly new – the school’s contemporary ensemble has been called onyx, sace, and briefly, acme. But this was its first concert with the nu name, and considerable excitement had built up in anticipation of this performance – I was fielding phone calls from media outlets near and far in the weeks leading up to Tuesday night, and I lost count of how many students stopped me in the hall to talk about it.

The performance of the Reich was particularly tight and impressive – patterns folded one on the other in perfect synchronicity, which is crucial to making the textures really shimmer. The piece is an expansion, originally done at Ransom Wilson's suggestion, of the earlier Octet. Live, the music is really gripping in a way recordings can never capture.

Another standout was McTee’s The Twittering Machine. McTee is a name I’ve heard for years, but without encountering any of her music. This piece was really excellent – the scoring was clear and succinct, the ideas were vivid and clearly audible, and the piece really knew what it was about.

And, of course, Adams’ Gnarly Buttons was very powerful. The first movement, truth be told, is not my cup of tea. That kind of cubist approach to shifting perspective on familiar objects – in this case, a 19th-century hymn – briefly appealed to me the first time I heard it done, but I haven’t been able to maintain interest. Probably more a comment on where I’m coming from as anything else. The second movement tickles my ear a bit more, and the final movement is gorgeous. The clarinet soloist was Igor Begelman, sadly giving his final performance on the faculty here. I’ve written about him before: he’s a very special player. I’m very sorry this is his last year here -- but he gave us a farewell to remember.