Brent Lawrence

Brent Lawrence
Based in Eugene, OR

“Every landscape contains an infinite number of stories. My goal, when creating nature-inspired music, is to draw out those narratives and ponder the stories that could be told, if only the land could speak.”


Brent Lawrence is a composer and guitarist native to Salem, Virginia. As a creator of both instrumental and vocal works, he is noted for his use of lush harmonies, earworm melodies, and genre-bending compositional style. In particular, Brent holds an affinity for music featuring the guitar and voice, a nod towards his background is jazz, blues, and American folk music. For his keen sensibility towards the genre, he has been called the “Schubert of guitar.” In addition to purely musical influences, Brent enjoys composing about the outdoors. As an avid enjoyer of nature, many of his recent works have been inspired narrative interpretations of landscapes.

Recent activity has included premiers by soprano, Estelí Gomez; clarinetist, James Shields; and participation in the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. Currently, Brent is working on a PhD in music composition at the University of Oregon where he studies with Robert Kyr and David Crumb.

Brent studied violin throughout his elementary school years. This foundation aided him while learning jazz guitar throughout high school. In the fall of 2009, Brent began studying guitar at Pfeiffer University, a small liberal arts college near Charlotte, NC. Here, he would hone his skills as a guitarist in both jazz and classical venues. By the end of sophomore year, Brent had entrenched himself in the Charlotte blues scene and was gigging regularly.

In his penultimate year at Pfeiffer, Brent became interested in composition. This interest led him to his graduate studies at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where he studied with Composer in Residence, Lawrence Dillon. While in North Carolina, Brent was commissioned by several organizations including The Center for Faith and the Arts of Salisbury, NC, the North Carolina Brass Band, and the Sounds of Summer Organ Festival of Winston-Salem.

Work Samples

Water and Stone (2017) for soprano and guitar. Performed by Esteli Gomez and Brent Lawrence.

“‘Water and Stone’ was inspired by the ruins of an 18th Century boat lock I found in Pilot Mountain, North Carolina. I imagined the rocks being violently pulled from the river, stacked into the structure, and finally, left to be overgrown and unnoticed.”

On Distant Hills (2017) for flute, bass clarinet, violin, cello, and percussion. Performed by Corvus New Music Ensemble.

“‘On Distant Hills’ was written during Composing in the Wilderness 2017, a composition workshop where participants spend two weeks roughing through the wilderness of Alaska and writing a piece about it. This piece, in particular, was inspired by the magnificent view, big and small, we found in Denali National Park. The experience made me think about perspective, from the biggest mountain, to the smallest lichen.”

< Return to Composers Network