"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, November 07, 2007
Abuse of Power

My Telling Tales program went very well on Saturday night. I’m going to have more to say about exactly what happened in the near future – but right now I have to go on a bit of a rant.

Rant starts after this sentence.

Should we ever be surprised when people in positions of authority abuse their power?

I found myself wondering this after a recent conversation with one of my composition students. We were discussing a new piece we had just heard on a concert.

How many times have I heard composers say they put something in a piece in order to give the audience a slap in the face, or a nasty jolt, or just to make them squirm? It seems like an inappropriate way to think of treating someone who is, for the time being, under your power. And yet these composers are often the same ones who complain the most about the abuses of politicians, administrators, figures of authority. Don’t they see that their revenge is not in any way an improvement?

I know, these composers don’t think of themselves as being in positions of power – but they are, nonetheless. Any time a group of people convenes to listen, the person producing the music is in charge of their time. You can say, “well, they can just get up and leave,” but any abusive dictator can say the same, and it doesn’t make their actions any more excusable.

So, again, should we ever be surprised? If even composers can’t resist using their ephemeral powers as an opportunity to abuse their dependents, who can we count on to be immune from this disease?