Short Biography

Composer Lawrence Dillon creates works that connect past and present in attractive and unexpected ways, provoking Gramophone to exclaim, "Each score is an arresting and appealing creation, full of fanciful and lyrical flourishes within traditional forms that are brightly tweaked." His music is characterized by a keen sensitivity to color, a mastery of form, and what the Louisville Courier-Journal has called a "compelling, innate soulfulness." Despite losing 50% of his hearing in a childhood illness, he 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 immediately 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.

Dillon's music, in the words of American Record Guide, is "lovely...austere...vivid and impressive." Three recordings of his music were released in 2010-2011 on the Bridge, Albany and Naxos labels. His works have been commissioned and premiered in the last four seasons by the Emerson String Quartet, Le Train Bleu, the Ravinia Festival, the Daedalus String Quartet, the Lincoln Trio, the Seattle Chamber Music Society, the Cassatt String Quartet, the Mansfield Symphony, the Boise Philharmonic, Wintergreen Summer Arts Festival, the Salt Lake City Symphony, the Quartetto di Sassofoni d'Accademia, the University of Utah and the Idyllwild Symphony Orchestra.

Lawrence Dillon is represented by Jeffrey James Arts Consulting.


Full Biography


Composer in Residence at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, LAWRENCE DILLON (born 1959, Summit, New Jersey) creates works that connect past and present in attractive and unexpected ways, provoking Gramophone to exclaim, "Each score is an arresting and appealing creation, full of fanciful and lyrical flourishes within traditional forms that are brightly tweaked." His music is characterized by a keen sensitivity to color, a mastery of form, and what the Louisville Courier-Journal has called a "compelling, innate soulfulness."

Dillon's music, in the words of American Record Guide, is "lovely...austere...vivid and impressive." Since 2010, his works have been commissioned and premiered by the Emerson String Quartet, Le Train Bleu, the Ravinia Festival, the Daedalus String Quartet, the Lincoln Trio, the Seattle Chamber Music Society, the Cassatt String Quartet, the Mansfield Symphony, the Boise Philharmonic, Wintergreen Summer Arts Festival, the Carpe Diem Quartet, the Salt Lake City Symphony, the Quartetto di Sassofoni d'Accademia, the University of Utah and the Idyllwild Symphony Orchestra.

In October 2010, Bridge Records released Insects and Paper Airplanes, a disk of Dillon's chamber music featuring the Daedalus String Quartet and pianist Benjamin Hochman. Gramophone called it "highly recommended," saying, "Just when you thought the string quartet may have reached the edge of sonic possibilities, along comes a composer who makes something novel, whimsical and haunting of the genre."

Dillon's recording Appendage and Other Stories made Fanfare Magazine's 2010 Want List. Raymond Tuttle wrote of it, "This is a terrific work. In fact, it is so good it made me weep. And Dillon, with his vivid imagination and his ear for vocal and instrumental color, seems to be a terrific composer."

In April 2011, Naxos released Violin Music of Lawrence Dillon featuring Sphinx Grand Prizewinner Danielle BelÚn. MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL described it as "an hour of music that is often profound without being pretentious, sometimes light-hearted but never 'lite', humorous without being arch, and immensely appealing but never frivolous."

Dillon has just completed his long-term chamber project, the Invisible Cities String Quartet Cycle, a cycle of six quartets focusing on Classical forms, with Quartet No. 6: Rapid Eye, commissioned by the Carpe Diem Quartet. The Emerson Quartet commissioned String Quartet No. 5: Through the Night and premiered it on March 9th, 2010 at the Kölner Philharmonie in Cologne, Germany, with subsequent performances in Seattle, Winston-Salem, Washington, New York and Philadelphia. Following the performance at the Smithsonian Associates, the Washington Post wrote, “Dillon has a huge repertoire of technical tools on his belt, and he uses them liberally but always sensitively and intelligently.”

String Quartet No. 4: The Infinite Sphere was commissioned by the Daedalus Quartet and premiered at Wolf Trap in January 2010.  Of the fourth quartet, the Washington Post wrote, “Dillon's control of time was a conspicuously imaginative element throughout. It is a fine addition to the repertoire.”  The first quartet in the cycle, Jests and Tenderness, was premiered and recorded by the Mendelssohn String Quartet in 2000.  The second quartet, Flight, was premiered by the Daedalus String Quartet in 2003.  The third quartet, Air, was premiered in 2006 by an ensemble comprised of members of the Miami, Mendelssohn and Brentano String Quartets.

Dillon was the Featured American Composer in the February 2006 issue of Chamber Music magazine.

Figments and Fragments, an orchestral fantasy that imagines the wild ruminations of Robert Schumann’s mind as he lay paralyzed in an asylum in Endenich, was commissioned by a consortium of five orchestras, resulting in performances in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Boise from May through November 2010.

The Better Angels of Our Nature, Dillon’s composition for piano trio and narrator based on texts of Abraham Lincoln, was a winner in the first composer competition sponsored by the Ravinia Festival in July 2008.  It has already had over forty performances in eleven cities.

His Amadeus ex machinawas chosen to represent the US in celebrations of Mozart’s 250th birthday in Salzburg, Vienna and Graz, Austria in the spring of 2006.  The piece has also been performed by the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic (where Dillon was a guest of the St. Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory) and awarded a special commendation by the 2003 Masterprize panel in London.  It was also chosen as contemporary competition piece for the 2002 Vakhtang Jordania International Conducting Competition in Kharkov, Ukraine, and has had US performances by orchestras in Minnesota, Indiana, Kentucky, Utah, North Carolina, and at the 2006 Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina. Amadeus ex machina was a featured work on the 2010 Conductor’s Guild Conference in Copenhagen.

In February 2005, hornist David Jolley and the Carolina Chamber Symphony premiered Dillon's Revenant: Concerto for Horn and Orchestra with the composer conducting.  The piece went on to win a prize from the International Horn Society. Also in 2005, his piano quartet What Happened was premiered in Paris at the Maison Danois by the Atlantic Ensemble.

Dillon's Wright Flight, commissioned by the 2003 illuminations festival, was premiered at Roanoke Island Festival Park in July of that year. The work combines orchestra, projected images and three strands of narrative to tell the story of the Wright Brothers' first flight. Wright Flight was selected as a featured work in the Wright Brothers' Centennial Celebration at Kitty Hawk in December 2003.

A recording of his music, featuring flutist Ransom Wilson along with the Borromeo, Cassatt and Mendelssohn String Quartets, was released by Albany Records in the summer of 2002. American Record Guide called it "lovely...austere...vivid and impressive." CVNC cited the recording as "delightful and engaging...inventive and skillfully scored...fascinating and imaginative." In NewMusicBox, Amanda MacBlane commented on a "pure mode of expression that layers lines so gracefully they seem to play themselves with an energetic fervor. Dillon's painterly style carefully colors phrases with glissandi and subtle accents underneath an intricate tapestry of sound."

Dillon's children’s piece Snegglish Dances was commissioned and premiered by the Louisville Orchestra, which subsequently won the 2001 Leonard Bernstein Award for Educational Programming from ASCAP and the American Symphony Orchestra League.

Partially deafened by a childhood illness, Dillon was the youngest of eight raised by a widowed mother. His earliest memories are of a house filled with the sounds of older siblings practicing the piano. At the age of seven, he began his own lessons, and quickly developed the habit of composing a new work each week.

In 1985, Dillon became the youngest composer to earn a doctorate at The Juilliard School, winning the Gretchaninoff Prize upon graduation. As a student, he also won an ASCAP Young Composers Award and first prize in the annual CRS New Music Competition. He studied privately with Vincent Persichetti, and in classes with Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, David Diamond, Leon Kirchner and Roger Sessions. Upon graduation, he was appointed to the Juilliard faculty.

In 1990, Dillon was offered the position of Assistant Dean at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he is now Composer in Residence.  He has also served as Interim Dean of the School of Music and founding Music Director of SACE, the School of the Arts Contemporary Ensemble.

In addition to his duties at UNCSA, Dillon has held residencies with numerous summer festivals, including the Cooperstown Chamber Festival, the Appalachian Summer Festival, the Wintergreen Summer Arts Festival, the Charles Ives Center, the Saugatuck Festival, the Swannanoa Chamber Music Festival and the Killington Festival. He has been a guest composer at the Curtis Institute of Music, SUNY-Stony Brook, the University of Utah, the Colburn School of Music, Seisen International School in Tokyo, the St. Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory, the Hartt School of Music, Indiana University, Boise State University, the University of California at Sacramento, Eastern Michigan University, Eastern Carolina University, the Buckley School, the Museum of the American Piano in New York and the Reynolda Museum of American Art. In 1999, he was named Music Program Director for the illuminations Summer Arts Festival on Roanoke Island, a position he held for seven years.

His works have been performed and broadcast throughout the Americas, Asia and Europe. His Violin Concerto was commissioned and premiered by the late Naumberg-winner Elaine Richey.

Dillon has earned numerous awards for his work, including honors from the American Music Center, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Masterprize, the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Ravinia Festival, the International Horn Society and Contemporary Record Society. In 1999 and 2013, he was awarded Artist Fellowships from North Carolina, the highest honor accorded to artists in the state.

Dillon's music is recorded by Albany Records, Bridge Records, Naxos, Channel Crossings and CRS. His works are published by American Composers Editions, a subdivision of BMI. He is represented by Jeffrey James Arts Consulting.  His blog, infinite curves, is featured on ArtJournal http://www.artsjournal.com/curves/.


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Lawrence Dillon
"It is obvious on this recording of chamber music by Lawrence Dillon that smoke and mirror musical tricks and "classical" music pretension have been abandoned in favor of a pure mode of expression that layers lines so gracefully they seem to play themselves with an energetic fervor. Dillon's painterly style carefully colors phrases with glissandi and subtle accents underneath an intricate tapestry of sound."
- Amanda MacBlane,
Sound Tracks, New Music Box
 
 


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