Prof James Dillon
Prof James Dillon
Although he has lectured extensively on his work throughout Europe, Asia and the U.S.A. Dillon has largely remained outside of the academic world working as a freelance composer. During the late 80s early 90s he accepted temporary positions teaching composition at The University of Central England, Birmingham and Goldsmith’s College, University of London.
Since 1980 James Dillon’s work has been consistently performed and commissioned worldwide by most of the major festivals, radio stations, soloists, ensembles and orchestras. In 1976 he won the first Huddersfield Contemporary Music Prize. He was also the first British recipient of the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis (in 1982) from Darmstadt, Germany. In 1989 the Sunday Times named him 'Classical Musician of the Year,' and he has uniquely recieved three Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards (1997, 2001 and 2005), the UK’s most prestigious music awards. In 1995 he was a Japan Foundation “˜visiting artist’ to Japan. He has been a guest lecturer at universities throughout the world and was named “˜Distinguished International Visitor’ to New York University in 2001. In 2003 the University of Huddersfield awarded him an honorary doctorate for his contribution to music. In 2003 and 2004 he recieved the British Academy of Composers “˜Chamber Music Award’ for Traumwerk II and The Soadie Waste respectively.
In the early 1980s Dillon's name became associated with the so-called New Complexity movement in London“”an association he has consistently questioned. However Dillon’s music is the product of a fertile creative imagination and a multi-faceted and independent musical personality, and his work defies simple categories. Perhaps one common factor amongst this group of composers was a shared intransigence to the commodification of art, but also a clear distaste for schools which tended to confound the critics. Dillon’s large and growing catalogue of works is rooted in the European classical tradition but is touched by his formative exposure to Scottish pipe music in particular piobaireachd and displays a wide interest other musics from jazz and delta blues to the Hindustani classical tradition and oriental court musics. This does not however indicate an exotic indulgence, Dillon’s is a direct response both structural and expressive.
During the 1970s and early 80s clearly touched by Varese and Xenakis, works such as . . . Once Upon a Time and East 11th St. NY10003 show a fascination with timbre and space. Some of these influences prevail in later works too, in the collosal orchestral helle Nacht, a work of obsessive intensity and hair-raising fierceness, and its immediate predecessor íœberschreiten for 16 players commissioned by the London Sinfonietta. íœberschreiten, helle Nacht and Blitzschlag (for flute and Orchestra) form the three parts of his German Tryptych which grew from his reading of German philosophy and poetry. The organization of works into 'cycles' or 'series' is a distinctive feature of Dillon's compositions. During much of the 80s and 90s he worked on his large scale cycle Nine Rivers a chain of nine compositions, over three hours of music which in exploring relationships between 'flow' and 'turbulence' draws inspiration from such diverse influences as complexity theory, renaissance alchemy, Rimbaud's Le Bateau Ivre and Celtic knot patterns. His work has been extensively recorded on CD and his complete works are published by Peters Edition, London and range through solos, chamber music, orchestral, concertos, electroacoustic works and opera. Dillon's creativity reflects a restless curiosity and a singular vision.
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