an infinite number of curves – Rapid Eye

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October 3, 2014 by Admin

from composer Lawrence Dillon:

Rapid Eye

In 1998, I began working on a long-term project, a set of six string quartets exploring traditional forms through a contemporary lens.  Next Friday, the Carpe Diem String Quartet will premiere the final installment, String Quartet No. 6: Rapid Eye at the McConnell Arts Center in Worthington, Ohio.

Here is a program note:

String Quartet No. 6: Rapid Eye is a rumination on the musical, literary and cognitive meanings of fantasy.

The first movement – Adrift – is a fantasy on the supernatural journeys of   literature, the meandering of dreams, and the intuitive shifts of musical improvisation.   It begins with a flickering gesture — the “rapid eye” of the title — announcing the onset of dreams.  The flickering subsides into a trembling figure passed around the ensemble.  From this figure, a widely discursive, episodic movement ensues, as if the figure has become a voyager passing through a series of magical seas.

The second movement – Ashore – starts from the same flickering gesture, but takes it in a completely different direction.  Now we are in a familiar, C Major realm, but time – in a pizzicato pulse — is warped and twisted into irregular shapes, like the inadvertent distortions of memory.

In life, when we encounter a fork in the road, we must choose one direction, and we can only wonder what might have happened if we had chosen another.  In art, we are allowed to experience alternatives.  In this sense, art fulfills a very powerful human fantasy.

Each of the two movements of String Quartet No. 6: Rapid Eye has two optional endings.  For the first movement, the first optional ending is scored for the live quartet, but a soundtrack is available from the publisher that should be played with the second optional ending.   Similarly, the second movement may be played as an entirely acoustic composition, but the ending is designed so that it can be alternatively played with amplification and reverb.

Can’t wait to find out which way Carpe Diem is going to do it.  Unfortunately, I have to miss both performances, which is pretty heartbreaking, since I’ve been working toward this moment for 16 years.

Maybe I’ll just fantasize about being able to be there.

Carpe Diem String Quartet


Lawrence Dillon, a recent recipient of a North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship, is Composer in Residence at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He has had commissions and performances by the Emerson String Quartet, the Boise Philharmonic, the Salt Lake City Symphony, the Daedalus String Quartet, the University of Utah Philharmonia and the Idyllwild (CA) Symphony Orchestra. He has won awards from ASCAP, the Juilliard School, the Ravinia Festival, the International Horn Society, the American Music Center, CRS and many other organizations.

Naxos has issued Lawrence Dillon Violin Music (Catalogue No: 8.559644), featuring seven chamber works performed by violinist Danielle Belen, 2008 Grand Prize Winner of the Sphinx Competition. His other recent, critically-acclaimed CD release, Insects and Paper Airplanes, is on the Bridge label. His music is published by American Composers Alliance – and his website is at


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