"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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Saturday, March 26, 2005
Notes Part 10: Seminar aftermath

The seminar drew to a close in amiable fashion, with many handshakes and stammered, multi-lingual attempts at well-wishes. Radvilovich then invited us to join him for coffee. We cleared out of the room just as a musicology conference was gathering and trudged through the snow to the Cafť Idiot.

Cafť Idiot

A group of five of us sat at a round table and ordered our hot drinks, which the Cafť Idiot traditionally serves with a complimentary shot of vodka. I donít know if it was the vodka, the brisk walk or the informal surroundings, but Radvilovich warmed up quite a bit, and I was able to ask him more about his work and the contemporary music scene in Russia.

He began by lamenting the level of performance of new music in Russia. He raved about the recordings I had brought featuring American performers, where every detail was so polished, and the music was really allowed to sparkle (thank you Cassatt Quartet, Mendelssohn Quartet, Carolina Chamber Symphony). He spoke of a flute/percussion duo he had written, which was performed in Germany by a pair of Americans. He was shocked that they were willing to rehearse for four hours straight. He asked them how much time they had spent with the piece, and they said it was their eighth rehearsal, which he found astounding.

(Thatís actually one of the reasons I prefer writing chamber music to writing for orchestra. Orchestras canít afford to make that kind of commitment, whereas itís not uncommon for chamber ensembles -- itís not always the case, of course, but it is certainly more frequent.)

Radvilovich then bemoaned the lack of support for new music from the administration of the St. Petersburg Conservatory (sound familiar to anyone?) and the difficulty of getting his hands non-Russian music. He said he has been teaching his students Berioís Sinfonia for years, and yet heís never seen a score.

I promised him I would see what I could do to help, which may not be much, but whatever is possible is necessary. I asked him for copies of his music, and I understand that a package is now somewhere in the postal ether on its way to my door as I type these words.

And Iíve got plans for that package.