Dr. Lawrence Mumford teaches private composition lessons and frequently instructs other theory and composition courses including counterpoint, form and analysis, and 20th century music studies, among other classes. Alumnus Garrett McPherson ('14) reflects on his studies with Dr. Mumford: "I went into Dr. Mumford's lessons expecting only to learn composition, but I also learned the importance of music presentation. Alongside this, Dr. Mumford drives home the spiritual implications of music. To many students Dr. Mumford has become a valuable friend and mentor."
Education & Influences
Dr. Mumford was blessed with an exciting educational journey. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from George Washington University, premiered one of the last works by the great American songwriter Irving Berlin (who died in 1989), and was invited to a master class given by Aaron Copland (who died in 1990). Upon completion of his doctoral degree, he became a member of Pi Kappa Lambda and the Extraordinary Students of America association.
After completing his master's program, Dr. Mumford moved away from full-time music for three years, to work in the finance industry while pursuing music on the side by songwriting and playing keyboard in club bands at night. Though it was a good season of rest from the rigors of pursuing music, he couldn't stay away from the field. "I found myself writing musical staves on accounting ledgers! I knew it was time to come back to my area of training. Coincidentally at the same time, I accepted the Lord."
Teachers included Robert Moore, Morton Lauridsen, Morris Cottell, and Robert Parris. Further instruction from Jerry Goldsmith, Earle Hagen, and David Raksin.
Since 1992, Dr. Mumford has been teaching courses in composition, theory, and other musical subjects at colleges and universities in the Los Angeles environs. In addition to Biola, he has served as a faculty member at Vanguard University, the Master's College, Concordia University, Providence Christian College, and California State University Northridge.
Dr. Mumford has a vast range of experience composing symphonic works as well as film scores and entertainment music with a style that focuses on American musical elements. After the Chicago premiere of his work for symphonic winds entitled Range of Light, a reviewer described it as "a stunning portrait of the Sierra Nevada." His music has been published by eight different companies and premiered in several states. A prolific composer, he has completed a symphonic work every year since 2000, and each one has been published, premiered, or both. Two of his original orchestral themes have played daily on radio in over 50 cities nationwide since 2000, and one of his songs has placed on a Billboard #1 album. He is also a prize-winning arranger whose scores have been played in seasonal concerts and in churches in Los Angeles.
Besides his work as a composer and arranger, he has also worked as a church music director, choral director, private piano instructor, and touring musician.
Faith in Action
Reflecting on his career thus far, Dr. Mumford notes, "For some reason I have usually had more success, when one of my pieces has what might be called a "sacred intent." I enjoy writing secular pieces from time to time, but the Lord seems to want me to spend most of my time with pieces that somehow relate to Him." He has also seen God's faithfulness to lead him through shifts in his career toward seasons of growth, as well as His providence in giving him compositional ideas. "God also seems to lead me in the area of composing projects," he says. "I remember reading that Haydn often prayed for ideas, so I do the same."
Dr. Mumford sees music as existing before humanity's beginning and continuing in the worship of God after the earth is destroyed (Job 38:7, Revelations 11:15). He remarks, "It is a great and timeless art that deserves our best efforts. From a practical standpoint, [glorifying God] means giving it the same time and effort on a daily and weekly basis that any other profession demands."
Working at Biola since 2008, Dr. Mumford admires the balance between rigorous academic standards and a deep commitment to the Christian faith which is rare to find in today's educational institutions. A teacher for over 20 years, Dr. Mumford rejoices in the successes of his former students and is grateful for the opportunity to have been involved in their journeys. One of his most memorable teaching moments, however, demonstrates the power of music to soothe the human soul in the midst of history's darkest moments. On September 11, 2001, he was in the middle of teaching a music theory class when the college received word of the terrorist attacks in New York City and at the Pentagon. "The students all crowded around me and asked me to play a hymn so they could sing. Some were in tears, and they were all embracing each other and me."Hoping to impact the lives of young people on a deeper level, he tries not only to provide musical guidance to his students, but also to act as a positive role model for their personal lives.
Personal website: http://www.lawrencemumford.com