After completing a Masters Degree in performance at the University of Melbourne, Douglas spent two years in the Concert Class at the Vienna Academy studying organ with Anton Heiller and conducting with Hans Swarowsky and Hans Gillesberger (Vienna Boys Choir). During that time he began a concert career that has since taken him throughout most of the Western world, earning the enthusiastic praise of critics.
Douglas has directed an international choir tour every two years since 1985, eleven with the Choir of Ormond College, and six with the Australian Chamber Choir. From 1981 to 2006, with the Choir of Ormond College, he regularly presented historically informed performances of Major Works such as Bach’s Passions, the Magnificat, the B Minor Mass, Vivaldi’s Gloria and Handel’s Messiah. This has continued and expanded with the Australian Chamber Choir.
In 1992 he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to music. This recognised his tireless activity mentoring emerging organists, conductors, composers and singers in the early years of their careers. As organist or conductor Douglas Lawrence has given something over 70 first performances of works by Australian composers. This activity continues unabated with new works scheduled for premiering each year.
His first important organ concert was in 1972 on the world’s oldest playable instrument in Sion, Switzerland. That instrument was built about 1420. Douglas has given organ and choral concerts there on six subsequent occasions. Other venues have included St Paul’s Cathedral London, Westminster Cathedral, St Mark’s Venice, The Bavo Church Harlem, Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnisskirche Berlin and Notre Dame Paris. Concert tours have also taken him to New Zealand, the Philippines, Japan and China. He has released something over thirty recordings, including the Bamboo Organ of Manila; two of the new organ in the Scots’ Church; ten with The Choir of Ormond College, two featuring the Choir of the Scots’ Church and five with the Australian Chamber Choir.
Amongst several inaugurals Lawrence played the first concert on the organ of the Sydney Opera House and Melba Hall at Melbourne University; and gave the first solo recital on the organ in the Melbourne Concert Hall. In March 2000 Scots’ Church in Melbourne inaugurated a new 68 stop organ from the famous Austrian builder Rieger. This instrument, designed by Douglas Lawrence is regarded by many eminent European, American and Australasian organists as the finest organ to ever come to Australia.
In Melbourne, Douglas Lawrence is Director of Music to the Scots Church and Artistic Director of the Australian Chamber Choir. He teaches organ for the Conservatorium of Music at the University of Melbourne. He was a sessional lecturer to the United Faculty of Theology and the Australian Catholic University.
Douglas Lawrence has appeared as soloist for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation series, youth concerts, Contemporary series and as soloist with the orchestras on television and radio. He gives duo concerts with harpsichordist Elizabeth Anderson.
Douglas Lawrence is much sought after as a judge in organ playing and choral competitions and his opinion is highly regarded in the field of organ design for churches and concert halls.