Graduating from the Berklee College of Music in 1999 with a focus on contemporary music, he immediately began working closely with many of the great modern composers, premiering and performing works by Elliot Carter, Pierre Boulez, Magnus Lindberg, Olga Neuwirth, David Loeb, and Nathan Davis, among many others. He has performed with many well-known chamber ensembles, including The International Contemporary Ensemble, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Argento New Music Project, Speculum Musicae, Fireworks Music, Art of Élan, Tres Americas, and nunc. Concurrently, he is thoroughly versed in the traditional orchestral repertoire, having performed with The Boston Symphony, The Chicago Symphony, The San Francisco Symphony, The New World Symphony, The American Symphony Orchestra, and the New York City Ballet and City Opera. As a solo artist, he has given recitals and clinics in North and South America, Europe, and Asia, made his Carnegie Hall solo debut in 2001, and has lectured on contemporary music at New York's Museum of Modern Art. In 2007, he was featured soloist with the Orchestra a Pizzico Ligure in several performances throughout northern Italy, and performed in the Miller Theatre portrait of Elliot Carter, conducted by Jeffrey Milarsky, in celebration of the composer's 99th birthday. In 2008 and 2011, he was a featured performer and clinician at the Classical Mandolin Society of America annual convention, and performed in an all-Carter program at the Tanglewood Music Festival under the direction of James Levine. In 2009 he headlined the Hildener Meisterkurs für Mandoline und Guitarre in Düsseldorf, Germany, and performed with Tres Américas Project at the Festival Internacional de Música Clásica Contemporánea in Lima, Peru. That same year he and harpist Bridget Kibbey were named amongst the first artists to participate in the Weill Music Institute's Carnegie Hall Musical Connections program. In 2013 he performed as soloist with Michael Tilson Thomas and The San Francisco Symphony as well as with Dawn Upshaw and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. A recent solo tour took him across Ireland and England, and he maintains an active international concert schedule.
Simultaneously, Mr. Brent has maintained an active career in popular and improvising music. He has performed and/or recorded with Regina Spektor, Woody Allen, Jewel, Stephane Grappelli, Alice and Ravi Coltrane, Tommy Tune, Sam Moore (from Sam and Dave), the Alan Ferber Nonet + Strings, and Kishi Bashi. He has been featured in dozens of Broadway and off-Broadway pit orchestras, including Tony Award winners and nominees Spring Awakening, Everyday Rapture, Big River, Urban Cowboy, and the 2014 Shakespeare In The Park production of Much Ado About Nothing. In 2010 he debuted the Joe Brent Quartet, featuring his own compositions and arrangements. Recently, he co-founded the improvising chamber ensemble 9 horses along with jazz violinist Sara Caswell. He also frequently performs with Wind-Up Records artist Jillette Johnson.
In 2007, Mr. Brent published two books of mandolin pedagogy, Scales and Arpeggios for the Mandolin and Orchestral and Chamber Excerpts for Mandolin. That same year, he released his debut album, Point of Departure, featuring duets with Ms. Kibbey. In 2010, he recorded the complete mandolin works of David Loeb for Vienna Modern Masters, and this year will release a recording of John Dowland’s lute music arranged for himself and Israeli mandolinist Alon Sariel. Recently he has participated in recordings by Erin McKeown, Justin King & King Radio, Kelli Rae Powell, and Gary Smulyan & Dominic Chianese as a sideman, and several more as producer.
Mr. Brent plays 8-string and 10-string mandolins which were custom-made for him by Brian Dean of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.