Photo credit: Natalia Banaszczyk

Photo credit: Natalia Banaszczyk


Laura Schwartz’s music explores written notation as a facilitator of a performer’s own creativity and self-formation. She blends together elements of traditionally notation scores, verbally notated scores, and illuminated manuscripts situating the participant in a space of their own curiosity and creativity. Laura uses cellphones, combs, and cut flowers to highlight everyday technologies as shapers of our lived sound environments. She regularly performs on guided improvisations on amplified electric fan. Her work creates an experience that allows listening to resonate with curiosity. Her current collaboration with Anna Elder involves amplified heartbeats, electronics, and voice.

Beyond composition, Laura is an active conference and concert organizer. She has worked as a chair of the abstract committee to create a conference schedule for Music and Power (Pittsburgh, PA 2017),  as an intern in Education and Live streaming with the Ojai Music Festival (Ojai, CA, 2017), as a Production Assistant Manager with the Microtonal Music Festival (Pittsburgh, PA, 2018), as a Logistics Coordinator and Event Producer for Race and Empire in Music History 1500-1800 Conference (Pittsburgh, PA, 2018), and as Media Chair and Conference Organizer of Music and Erotics (Pittsburgh, PA, 2019). As well as producing and directing concerts, New Works for Voice (Normal, IL, 2015), Fictions (Normal, IL, 2015), New Music for Flute and Clarinet (Davis, CA, 2017), and Meal 1 Presented by Dinner Party Ensemble (Pittsburgh, PA, 2019).

Laura is actively pursuing a certificate in Deep Listening from The Center for Deep Listening. Laura is also an active scholar in Music Theory and Musicology. She was a recipient of an Andrew Mellon Predoctoral Research Fellowship for 2018-2019 for her dissertation research on self-formation in works by Jenifer Walshe and Pauline Oliveros. Her primary research areas include: verbally notated scores, technologies of self, listening, voice/self in video game music, and Pauline Oliveros. She attended the University of California, Davis (B.A. in Music, 2013), Illinois State University (M.M. in Composition, 2015), and the University of Pittsburgh (Ph.D. in Music Composition and Theory, 2019).


As a composer, 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), the UC Davis Revision/(s) Festival (2018), Los Angeles Percussion Quartet Composers Imitative (2018), New Music on the Point (2018), SCI National Conference/Robb Composers’ Symposium (2019), Montréal Contemporary Music Lab (2019), and the Composer’s Conference (2019). 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 illustrated 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).  Her commissioned collaboration with animator David Schwartz­, An Anatomical Study on Escape (2018) for ensemble and live-processed video projection was premiered by Kamratōn ensemble in March 2018. Her first CD recording For My Mother (2017) is from Durward Contemporary Chamber Ensemble on their inaugural CD, Daughters of Earth.

Laura has worked with ensembles and performers including: Transient Canvas, Arditti quartet, ensemble linea, New Morris code, Ekmeles, wild Up, Durward Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, the Living Earth Show, Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra, University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and How things are made. Her collaborations with performers include: Jamie Monck—guitar, Matt Driscoll—trombone, Tony Arnold—voice, Robert Black—double bass Devon Tipp—bassoon, Evangeline Werger—piano, Sarah Pyle—flute(s), and Aaron Hydns—tuba.