"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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Thursday, July 28, 2005
Extensive Care Unit

I promised Everette I would put together a list of my favorite solo works that make substantial use of extended techniques. Going through old recordings and scores, I have discovered that there are too many appropriate ones, so here is a selective list – one for each instrument. Highly subjective, thoroughly unthorough, mostly based on a few years of avid listening, before I got sick of hearing too many pieces that just strung together various effects with all the grace and aesthetic charm of a grocery list. The works below, for the most part, have expressive aims that transcend their materials.

Flute: There’s lots of great stuff for this instrument, but nobody surpasses Robert Dick for imagination and sheer virtuosity in the solo works. Everything he’s done is recommended.
Oboe: Sky: S for J by Joseph Celli. Okay, it’s really an English horn, but we won’t split hairs.
Clarinet: Interpolation by Aurelio de la Vega
Bassoon: I plead bliss.
Saxophone: Opcit by Philippe Hurel – but I’m sure Everette could name some other good ones.
Trumpet: Space is a Diamond by Lucia Dlugoszewski. Everette has already sung its praises.
Horn: Hornpipe by Gordon Mumma
Trombone: Sequenza V by Luciano Berio
Tuba: Five Studies for Tuba Alone by David Reck
Violin: Capriccio by Krzysztof Penderecki
Viola: Viola Sonata by Gyorgi Ligeti
Cello: Sonata für Cello Solo by Bernd Alois Zimmermann
Double bass: Check out Robert Black’s disk “State of the Bass.” He’s one of my favorite musicians. In fact, my dream is to write a flute and bass duo for him to play with Robert Dick – with their names, I know exactly what I’d call the piece.
Voice: Sequenza III by Luciano Berio
Guitar: Star Spangled Banner of Jimi Hendrix.
Piano: The great granddaddy of them all, and still one of my favorite pieces to perform is Henry Cowell’s The Banshee. But a sleeper hit is Rhapsodies by Curtis Curtis-Smith.
Harp: I have been consistently under-impressed by extended techniques on the harp. Maybe traditional harp playing sounds too good to me. Better ask someone else who can be a bit more enthusiastic.
Percussion: There are too many to name, although there was a time when I couldn’t get enough of Stockhausen’s Mikrophonie I.

Obviously, I’ve tremendously restricted matters by listing only solo works. There are tons of great pieces for small ensemble, or solo and electronics, that combine extended techniques very effectively, which is what tends to interest me more than one cool sound at a time. I prefer a piece that integrates its sound world into a larger concept. To me, music that is all extended techniques runs the danger of accomplishing the same thing as a movie that is all special effects – which is not much.