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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Monday, May 25, 2009
Memorial

My undergraduate counterpoint class was taught by a fiftyish, alcoholic composer.

He had written the textbook for the class, which we all dutifully purchased. It was a cheaply bound collection of single-sided, typewritten pages, many words crossed out and corrected with scribbles in the margin -- and many others that should have received the same treatment.

Some mornings he showed up late for class, mumbled something like, do chapter six, then put his head down on the desk, moaned softly for a while and began snoring loudly.

A few years later, when I was in grad school, I heard that he had died in London. The person he specified should be notified in the event of his death I assume he had no living relatives was his former teacher, Milton Babbitt.

The guy had gotten off to a pretty good start, winning a BMI Young Composers Award, and having a piece released on a CRI recording.

I remember one time when he had the whole composition department over to his house for dinner. He made a huge pot of chili, and was as happy as Id ever seen him, scurrying back and forth with steaming bowls. But as the evening drew to a close and we all started saying our goodbyes, I thought he was going to cry.

Im thinking about him now, as I prepare to take a sabbatical from teaching. Burned out and beat up, he represents for me everything that can go wrong with an artists dreams.

On this day when we remember the men and women who have died for our country, here is a quiet toast for all of the Americans who have given their lives to anonymous pursuit of the muse.