"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, May 26, 2005
huit nuits

Greetings from Paris -- I must say, a damn fine place to be this time of year.

I have eight nights in the City of Light. Eight nights gives me just enough time to avoid rushing around, trying to cram everything in, but also just enough so that I will barely settle into the remarkable rhythms of Parisian life before I will have to head back home. Of course there are struggles and frustrations here, as anywhere, but there is also a fantastic sensitivity and respect for the highest aspirations of civilization that I find really refreshing. Returning to these streets, these gardens, these plazas from time to time is a delicious balm for any soul that despairs of the value of human achievement.

I have done a lot since arriving Tuesday afternoon, but two things stand out: visits to the Pompidou Center and the Cité Universitaire. The former's exhibition of contemporary art was a great refresher course in the wit and audacity of early minimalism -- Donald Judd, Carl André, et al -- as well as some wondrous new works, including a 2001 film, a Japanese-Vietnamese coproduction (I believe it was called Approaching the Complex) that featured images, both otherworldly and strangely familiar, of young men bicycling rickshas on the bottom of a lake -- limbs straining with effort, and sudden, beautifully bubbling outbursts as they shot up to the surface to gulp down more air, before returning to their Sisyphean exertions.

The Cité Universitaire is where my What Happened will premiere tonight. An international village within the city, the CU is a place where students from around the world come in order to be able to afford to pursue their studies in this cultural capital. Each building houses students from a different country, providing an oasis of familiarity to young people who may be exploring the world beyond their homelands for the first time.

My music will be played in the Danish House, a modest brick edifice with a spacious, wooden music room. The concert is being given by the Atlantic Ensemble, a group whose character is personified by Wei Tsun Chang, a terrific violinist who approaches every note he plays -- whether it was put on the page by Mozart or by an unknown living composer -- as though it was the most fascinating thing he could possibly be doing. In rehearsal last night, we tried a number of last-minute adjustments -- shifting bowings, registers, etc. -- in an effort to make every nuance sparkle. I think the performance will go very well -- I will try to give a follow-up report in the next few days.

But not before I spend a few more hours sitting in outdoor cafes and soaking in the impossibly fine evening air.