"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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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

In March, I wrote about a seminar Kenneth Frazelle gave on his Sonata-Fantasy for piano. At the time, it was a work in progress. On Saturday night, it was premiered at the spanking new auditorium of the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, which commissioned the piece to celebrate the new Babcock wing.

The auditorium was packed, standing room only. It appears to have been designed as an all-purpose venue, which is always a frightening concept to me -- all-purpose venues so often serve no purpose particularly well. The seating in the new auditorium is of the creaky bleacher variety. Surprisingly, the acoustics are not bad -- not terribly warm, but very clear. I would guesstimate the space seats 150-200.

The Sonata-Fantasy is huge, just on the other side of thirty minutes, in three movements. I wrote about the first two movements a couple of months ago, but the third movement was brand new to me. On second hearing, I had more trouble with the first movement than I had before -- the range of ideas and mercurial shifts were harder to follow without the score. Iíll be curious to see how I respond with further hearings.

The second movement is still spectacular. And the third movement is a wonderful surprise, an epilogue that is both concise and far-reaching.

The audience ranged evenly in age from 20s to 70s, and there was a tremendous electricity in the air, the feeling that we were experiencing something new and wonderful, and experiencing something new and wonderful really mattered.

We live in a time when more music is being produced than ever before, yet no era has been less sure of what music is, or more skeptical of the cultural value of music.

Saturday night, for thirty minutes, the value was not in question.