I’d heard the name “Lawrence Dillon” a few times. And I was aware that he was an American composer of some reputation, located somewhere within the tonal camp. But what made me want to find out more about him and his music was a blog he posted a couple of weeks ago.
In the first sentence, Dillon gently drops a bombshell: “There are gobs of composers who style themselves postmodernists as a cover for lazy composing,” he calmly asserts. (You can read his blog here.)
He prefaces the declaration with the warning that his opinion may “raise some hackles” – and indeed it may. But he’ll get no argument from me, as I’ve often thought exactly the same thing.
So now I wanted to know more about Dillon and his music. What kind of music does a post-modernist who chastises other post-modernists for laziness write? A little Googling yielded some results.
Like most composers these days, Dillon has a website (see here). His biography states that he is the Composer-in-Residence at the University of North Carolina, and lists a number of prominent musicians he’s written for: the Emerson Quartet, the Ravinia Festival, the Salt Lake Symphony, and many others.
Turning to YouTube, I found some examples of his music. I liked it – and what I find most pleasing about his music is the way he cleverly satisfies listeners’ expectations even as an idea charges off in unexpected directions. There’s always some inventive processes going on in his music, often involving the use of “old” materials to convey “new” ideas.
Here’s a YouTube clip of Exit, by Dillon. It’s a little music-theatre piece for a speaker and a chamber ensemble that’s fresh, breezy and a little jazzy. The kind of hyper-seriousness that attached itself to many modernist works is conspicuously absent. And yet it’s never lazy.
© Colin Eatock 2013