"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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Monday, March 16, 2009

From time to time, questions are raised about the relevance of multi-movement forms. The historical argument is brought to bear: multi-movement forms came about because of the sections of the Mass and collections of dances, the argument goes, which have no bearing on the contemporary concert hall experience.

For me, these historical questions are moot. It makes as much sense to ask Why break the mass into different sections? or Why collect different dances together? One simple answer: there are many ways to articulate the passage of time, and the passage of time remains one of the most fascinating challenges we grapple with on a daily basis. So why not take advantage of all the ways in which time can be projected through the course of a composition?

Heres the fun part of multi-movement forms for me: the possibility of having several beginnings and several endings. Beginnings and endings are spectacular moments in life and art, all of them unique and yet all closely related. When I write a piece in four movements, for example, I get to think about four ways of beginning and four ways of ending, all of which can complement or contradict one another.

The parallel perq of writing a single-movement piece is coming up with a variety of transitions from one section to another. Sometimes transitions can be abrupt now Im here, now Im not and sometimes they can be protracted affairs that take on the weight of independent sections. Between these two extremes, the composer has the opportunity to create the connection that most precisely matches the need.

So should music stick to single-movement forms or multi-movement forms?

As far as Im concerned, music does a great job of sticking to everything.