mister blister himself

Lawrence Dillon, the composer of such soon-to-be-FAMOUS hits as Facade, Bacchus Chaconne, and Mister Blister, made his first visit to the Colburn School today! I was really nervous to meet him – after months of speaking his name on a daily basis to one person or another, I finally got to shake hands with the man himself. I’ve made some assumptions about his personality based on his compositions…that he has a weird sense of humor like me, that he is deeply passionate about what he does, that he loves the kazoo, etc. (Thanks to my student, Michael, for a delightful kazoo performance on the recital today)

After meeting Dillon in person, I immediately discovered that he is charmingly kind and warm hearted. He is genuinely grateful to the musicians who play his music, while still having decisive musical opinions on the outcome of a performance. He flew out to LA just for one day to make sure he could hear me perform these pieces before they are recorded next week. These works are like his children and he wants to make sure they are in good hands.

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After I finished the last notes of Facade for him at a rehearsal before the recital, he just stared at me for 10 seconds and then said “It’s scary… how you get this music”. I do feel a connection to the music he has composed – it just makes sense to me. I think that’s why I chose Dillon in the first place when looking for a composer to record for Naxos. Not surprisingly, Facade was the piece I heard that sold me on the decision to go with Dillon’s music. It was also written the year I was born…maybe that has something to do with it. A connection through the womb. Weird, but perhaps fittingly so for Dillon’s music.

This whole experience (which is far from over…still have to record the cd! And then sell them later!!) is teaching me a lot more than I bargained for. Lipsett made a good point a few days ago that I have come to understand and believe in. It doesn’t matter if you are playing Brahms, or Bartok, or Dillon..if it is good music, a true artist will demand of themselves that they master the piece all the same. When I first took on this project I thought, “New music by an American composer…my playing will go down the tubes. Sarasate, anyone?” However, attempting to master Dillon’s music has been as difficult, if not more, than working on my Brahms concerto. Sound is sound…vibrato is vibrato..intonation, etc. It all applies here, too. To my students, I hope you will always approach music this way. Find great music to play and play it to the best of your abilities. To most audiences nowadays, something like Dillon is no more foreign than a Mozart sonata, anyway….


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