"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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Saturday, November 26, 2005
big deal

Last week, we performed Beethovenís 9th here. Afterwards, I was talking with two choreographers Ė intelligent, well-educated artists, who know a whole lot more about music than Iíll ever know about dance Ė who expressed how exciting it was to see so many people on the stage making music together.

I feel like Iím missing the gene that finds enormous groups of musicians amazing. I have nothing against orchestras or choruses, but the sheer size of performing forces means very little to me. In many ways, a single musician Ė if itís the right musician -- can wield far more power over my sensibilities.

Some people are at home with enormous forces to a degree that makes it difficult for them to express themselves otherwise Ė John Adams, for example, from the evidence of his output, would seem to feel uninspired by the idea of writing chamber music (somebody correct me if Iím making a presumptuous leap there). Bernard Rands (I seem to be quoting him a lot lately, by some strange coincidence) told me that he found writing for string quartet much harder than writing for orchestra, because you have so few options. I must be looking at it through a very different lens, because I see limitless possibilities in a string quartet Ė every nuance can be rehearsed, reconsidered and refined to a degree even the best orchestras canít approach. Itís like the difference between sculpting with metal fibers and sculpting with chunks of granite.

For me, there is a trade-off in intimacy when writing for orchestra that I accept as part of the deal. But I canít imagine living solely on the advantages I gain for what Iíve given up.

Make no mistake, Beethoven 9 is great stuff Ė I have no desire to do without it. But the late quartets and sonatas absolutely kill me. I just canít see what is more magical about a couple hundred people following somebody with a stick than a small group of musicians feeling the push and pull of an elegant phrase as one.