"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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Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Bastard Child

When the roots of minimalism are discussed, LaMonte Young and Terry Riley are often (correctly) among those given the credit for setting in motion three of its enduring principles: stasis, tonal stability and repetition.

It’s just as well that nobody ever points to Elliott Carter as a seminal figure – he’d probably have a cow.

But Riley and Young were certainly familiar with Carter’s work from 1950, the Eight Etudes and a Fantasy for Woodwind Quartet. Etude No. 7 is a drone on G – nothing more, nothing less. In Etude No. 3, the four instruments just play the three notes of a soft D-Major chord.

At the time, Carter was beginning to experiment with a new approach to musical time. He was thinking outside the traditional grid of rhythm and meter, trying to get to the root of the ways in which we perceive the passage of time.

Of course, the direction Carter went would never be confused with minimalism, but one can easily imagine those radical wind etudes hovering in the subconscious of a couple of young, disenchanted composers looking for new ideas.

Elliott Carter the illegitimate father of minimalism? Just please don’t tell him I said so.