"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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Friday, April 27, 2007
Young Composers

We’ve got some surprising young composers around here.

Saturday night was our annual end-of-the-year concert, which I used to call a Student Composers Concert, but I’m calling it a Young Composers Concert these days. Why the change? “Student Composers” implies that listeners shouldn’t expect much, which is only sometimes true; much of what is heard can withstand very high expectations. There are, of course, the pieces that strain to achieve things the composers aren’t ready to achieve -- but that’s true, or should be, with composers of any age.

“Young Composers” may carry the same implication to a degree, but it also implies adventurousness, exploration, freedom. And that’s what we got Saturday night: seven composers challenging themselves in seven very different ways.

Then on Monday night, Gregory Miles Hoffman, who studies here with Michael Rothkopf, gave his Master’s recital: two stunning pieces that combined live and electronic elements to gorgeous and harrowing effect and a Pierrot-plus-ensemble song cycle called The Moon Chalks Out Her Message in Letters of Light. This expansive title hints at the expansiveness of the concept and composition: thirty minutes, seven songs, with texts cobbled together from fifty-one different poems in over twenty different languages. The entire thirty minutes stays more or less in one tempo; combined with the constantly shifting languages and delicately morphing timbres, the overall effect is both disorienting and mesmerizing. The piece is filled with felicitous moments, which the student ensemble conveyed beautifully, with special props to mezzo Amy Hartshough for switching from Japanese to Macedonian to Estonian to Khmer from one line to the next.

And tonight another graduation recital – this one by Felix Ventouras, who will be playing his own piano parts in several of his pieces.