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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Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Time Out

Iíve just had a nice bit of news Ė Iíve learned that Iíve been awarded a sabbatical for next fall to work on my Schumann Trilogy. That means no teaching from June through December. Iíll miss the teaching, because my students mean a lot to me, but after 22 years itís probably a good idea for me to shift gears a bit.

This Schumann Trilogy will be a major undertaking. As the title implies, itís going to be three pieces Ė not movements, but stand-alone pieces Ė on three aspects of one of the Romantic periodís most intriguing figures.
FantasiestŁck
FantasiestŁck is an orchestral fantasy on the enigmatic figure of Robert Schumann Ė a brilliantly gifted composer and writer who ascended to the pinnacle of the music world, only to end his days in an insane asylum.

The Marriage Diary
For the first four years of their married life, Robert and Clara Schumann kept a marriage diary. They wrote notes to one another, commented on visitors and concerts, and kept a running dialogue on the delights and challenges of married life. The Schumannsí marriage holds particular interest for couples in the twenty-first century, as Robert and Clara coped with many of the same issues familiar to two-income families today. My Marriage Diary takes its cue from this infamous book in the form of a dialogue for mezzo, tenor and orchestra.

Florestan and Eusebius
While still in his twenties, Robert Schumann became an influential music critic. In his writings, he invented several characters, through whom he expressed differing perspectives on various issues of the day. Chief among these fictional figures were Florestan and Eusebius. Florestan was impetuous, passionate, and forward-looking; Eusebius was quiet, introspective Ė a dreamer.

My Florestan and Eusebius imagines these two characters beside Schumannís deathbed, trying to make sense of their creatorís madness and decline. It concludes with a setting of a haunting elegy by Heinrich Heine, one of Schumannís favorite poets.

The part of Florestan will be performed by a combination of tenor and actor. The part of Eusebius will be sung by a trio of soprano, mezzo and alto.
I find Schumann fascinating -- the combination of musical and literary gifts, the obsessive focus on genres, the gradual shift from youthful radical to cautious family man. And, of course, the strange symptoms of his final years.

The three pieces have to be completed in January, so this sabbatical will provide a welcome chance to focus.

So now my next task is figuring out who will cover the duties Iíll be missing come September.