"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, April 21, 2005
Pruning The List

Okay, now that weíve had a chance to come up with every piece from 1970-2005 we can think of that deserves our love and affection, and bemoan the unfairness of skipping over so many great composers that were left off The List, itís time for me to get back to what I was looking for originally.

Alexander Radvilovich asked me what pieces since 1970 had the same effect that Le marteau had on the 1950s and Sinfonia had on the 1960s.

So itís time to look back over the list and pick out one piece from each decade that had the most widespread influence. Elodie Lauten has written about The End of Stylistic Dominance and Rodney Lister has testified to the shift in media attention since the 1970s, and it is true that both of those cultural shifts have muddied the waters. But could it still be possible to point to one work that had the broadest influence on other composers? Not necessarily the ďbestĒ piece, or the piece that has ďstood the test of timeĒ (whatever that means), and certainly not the piece that had the most impact on any one of us individually. Iím looking for the composition that, due to a complex set of factors (innovation, quality, prominent premiere, timing, luck, etc.) made a sizable proportion of composers of the time stop in their tracks and reconsider their artistic paths.

Looking back through the 70s list, my vote goes to Einstein on the Beach. Not anywhere near my favorite work from the period, but the attention it got and the impact it had is undeniable.

Runners-up, in no particular order: Drumming, Final Alice, Shaker Loops, Rochberg Third Quartet.

Of course, none of these comes close to Star Wars, on a certain level. But I just canít bring myself to put that in the same category. And Iím sorry to say that Ligeti (whose name rhymes with SPI-ghet-ti) isnít in here either.

Again, Iím not making a case that these are the best pieces of the decade. They are certainly not my favorites, especially with 20-20 hindsight. But I think they meant the most in the shifting mindsets of the time.

Do you agree? Iím looking for responses from people who were there, composers who are now in their 40s and up. We will need the input from younger composers when we get to the 1980s and 1990s. Iím going to assume that itís too soon to say anything about the 2000s.

Jerry, I know you are dying to get your favorite -- Bernsteinís Mass -- on this list somehow. Sorry!