"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, April 05, 2006
Nature and artifice

Conventional wisdom prizes naturalness over artificiality. In music, for example, we praise the naturalness of culturally indigenous work, and decry the artificiality of a composer using a foreign musical language.

But I wonder if we use these terms too freely.

Artificial means “made by humans.” So in what sense is anything we do not artificial?

Or, to look at it another way, the whole nature-artifice dichotomy is based on a creationist point of view, the belief that human beings were made differently and for different reasons from other species. This perspective doesn’t ring true to me. I see humans as one of thousands, perhaps millions of species in the universe, each one uniquely adapted to survival in its environment.

In other words, human beings, in all their waywardness and complexity, are a product of nature.

So – in what sense is anything we do not natural?