"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.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Day One

As promised in my last post, I’m going to describe the layout of the MUSIC NOW residency day by day. The residency began on Wednesday (Feb 21) with guest composer (me) arriving at the airport in Detroit. I couldn’t help noticing that the organizers had thoughtfully provided a mid-February thaw – temperatures were hovering in the upper 30s, as opposed to the single digits dominating the weather reports for several weeks. Anthony Iannacone, the festival organizer, met me and took me to my hotel. Along the way, we had a chance to get to know one another a bit, enjoying the first of many conversations that covered a wide range of topics. Tony’s about fifteen years older than I am, but we discovered many mutual acquaintances. Both of us had seen some of the worst side of the late, lamented David Diamond. Tony had studied with Vittorio Giannini, one of the founders of the school where I teach. And he remembered one of my favorite teachers, James Sellars, from his student days.

The only scheduled activity was an evening concert of new music performed by Eastern Michigan faculty. None of the pieces were mine, which was an excellent way to start: I was able to listen and learn, get the lay of the land, before making any contributions to the proceedings.

Here’s what I heard: music by Iannacone and two of his students, Joshua Bornfield and Whitney Prince. These impressive pieces gave me a sense of the character of the EMU composition department: traditional musical values, fine craftsmanship, artistic sensitivity.

The other three works on the program made it clear that the department was not dogmatic in its preferences: we heard six lively piano preludes by Ginastera, Reich’s phasing Nagoya Marimbas and Resanovic’s wild foray into cultural morphing,, for clarinet and prerecorded sound.

So this first day was a chance for me to gauge how to maximize my contributions to the festival. When the concert concluded, Tony drove me back to my hotel, where I gave some thought to my Day Two responsibilities, before drifting off to some much-needed sleep.