Photo credit: Natalia Banaszczyk

Photo credit: Natalia Banaszczyk


Laura Schwartz is a Ph.D. candidate in the Music Composition and Theory at the University of Pittsburgh. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Laura grew up in a much warmer place: Carlsbad, California. She attended the University of California, Davis (B.A. in Music 2013). She attended Illinois State University (M.M. in Composition 2015). The music Laura writes explore gesture-time, electric fans, and egg shakers.

2018 has been a busy year for Laura. In January, she collaborated with Los Angeles Percussion Quartet Eggs for their 2018 Composer Initiative. Her collaboration with animator Shayna Schwartz­, An Anatomical Study on Escape (2018) for ensemble and live-processed video projection was premiered by Kamratōn ensemble in March. As well as her first piece for Jazz Orchestra, Boundaries (2018) was premiered by the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra at the Pitt Jazz Composers Concert sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Department of Music. Laura made her orchestral debut with the University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in April when they performed her work Murmur (2018) —for spatialized string orchestra and xylophone. In June, a recording of her verbally notated game score, Episode 8, was released on Bandcamp by Pittsburgh experimental group How things are made.

Laura’s music was performed during the Oregon Bach Festival Composer’s Symposium (2014), the Oregon Symposium of Graduate Musicians (2015), Nief Norf festival (2015), Yarn/Wire Institute (2016), and the UC Davis Revision/(s) Festival (2018). She was awarded one of four inaugural artist residences with the University of Pittsburgh Department of Physics and Astronomy (2016), culminating in System Cooling, an illuminated set of six miniatures for clarinet, baritone saxophone, violin, and double bass. In 2017, she won the Margert Blackburn and Dead Elf awards for her string quartet Wreathes (2017).

Laura has worked with ensembles and performers including: Robert Black—double bass, Arditti quartet, ensemble linea, New Morris code, Ekmeles, wild Up, Durward Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, the Living Earth Show, and the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet. Her collaborations with solo performers include: Matt Driscoll—trombone, Devon Tipp—bassoon, Evangeline Werger—piano, Sarah Pyle—flute(s), and Aaron Hydns—tuba.

Beyond composition, Laura is an active scholar in Music Theory and Musicology. She is a recipient of an Andrew Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship for 2018-2019 for her dissertation research on self-formation in the verbally notated music of Jenifer Walshe and Pauline Oliveros. As a scholar, Laura has presented at various conferences including: American Musicological Society Allegheny Chapter in Cleveland, OH (2017) and Youngstown, OH (2018), “Techniques of Listening” Conference at the University of Minnesota (2017), and the University of Pittsburgh Graduate Expo (2017 and 2018). Her primary research areas include: verbally notated scores, technologies of self, listening, voice/self in video game music, and Pauline Oliveros. For more information visit: