"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, July 15, 2008
Walking it off

I have, as I suppose many composers have, a frighteningly profound relationship with the tools of my trade. Piano, pencil, music paper, laptop, keyboard. I can spend a ridiculous amount of time with these tools, while not really being aware of them, in the way my eyelashes come in handy several times a minute without ever drawing attention to themselves.

They are that good at their job.

But they aren’t enough. I have to, on a regular basis, get away from the tools in order to do what I do.

Yesterday, on my morning walk, I was playing through a work-in-progress in my head. (How important is it to be able to recall an entire piece you are working on? I find it enormously helpful. But it’s tricky – as you work on the piece, it changes, so what exactly are you remembering?) It became crystal clear to me, in a way that wouldn’t have been possible had I been in my studio, how to solve a problem that had arisen in the piece.

The cool breeze of a summer morning lifted the mystery away, as if it were no more than a damp mist.

Of course, my pace quickened, which probably would make my doctor happy -- I couldn’t wait to get back to my tools to try out the new solution.