"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

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Thursday, June 23, 2005
Personal Exchange Rate

As someone who benefits daily from what the internet has to offer, Iím not anxious to criticize this splendiferous medium. Not only does it open us up to a wealth of information, it certainly answers the yearning for superficial interaction that seems to be printed on each of our itchy fingertips.

New ways of interacting produce new ways of thinking, which is both exciting and worrisome. On the one hand, itís great to know that our minds are capable of travelling in directions we couldnít have imagined 20 years ago. At the same time, there are many new lazy habits of thought and behavior to guard against.

These days, my biggest peeve is our cultural obsession with rating and ranking. Iím not talking about serious, productive criticism. Iím talking about the casual dismissal -- and just as casual worship -- of art, entertainment, personalities, fashions, etc., that becomes far too facile in our touch-and-go discourse.

This kind of thinking upsets me most when I hear people describe individual composers as overrated. In a culture where the professional, not to mention the artistic, role of composers is grossly undervalued, itís hard for me to accept the assertion that any composer is getting more accolades than s/he deserves. The truth is, all composers are underrated -- some of them are just more underrated than others. If and when composers ever rise to the level of, say, sports figures in the estimation of the general population, then I may begin believing that some composers are overrated. Until then, we are all getting far less appreciation than our efforts warrant.

So youíll never hear me describe any composer as overrated, though I may criticize his or her approach or results. In my world, that kind of facile assessment is seriously flawed.

In fact, I think itís fair to call it grossly overrated.