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The San Juan Islands

(and... speaker. essayist. activist. naturalist photo-blogger. fun person.)

"[Shapiro's music is] enough to give one hope for the contemporary music scene."

—All Music Guide

Alex Shapiro, photo by Paul Chepikian

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island sunset

Alex Shapiro's unique music career is a happy, multifaceted one, in which she spends her time:

Alex Shapiro, photo by Paul Chepikian

Composing a lot of music (mostly for chamber ensembles and symphonic wind bands, often with electronics) composing

Speaking at events and residencies speaking

Participating on advocacy boards and committees participating

Writing articles and essays writing


Photo-blogging wildlife from the remote island on which she creates! blog



Get a sense of Alex, as she responds to the question, "What kind of composer are you?" in this 50-second excerpt from a 2010 interview:


Perhaps the best way to get to know Alex's music, is to get to know Alex through the personal offerings on her blog, Notes from the Kelp. Thousands of visitors join her on explorations of the San Juan Islands and beyond, using Alex's award-winning essays, photographs and music (and her sense of humor) as their guide. blog

Scroll down this page to share life through Alex's eyes-- and ears.

San Juan Islands and Mt. Baker from puddle jumper


What Alex is up to right now:
The latest CD release

Italian clarinetist Gianluca Campagnolo has made a beautiful recording of Alex's work for solo clarinet and electronics, WATER CROSSING. The track appears on Campagnolo's 2015 CD, Atmospheres, and is also available on iTunes. iTunes link

Atmospheres CD

Relax to an excerpt:

The latest commissions and premieres

Solo piano:

Michael Tierra is both a professional pianist and a renowned professional herbalist. What better way to embrace both worlds, than to commission a suite of solo piano pieces to explore the unique traits of healing plants? Exploring the balance between pain and joy on this fragile planet, the 20 minute piece, titled, ARCANA, premiered in Santa Cruz, California on March 20, 2016, on a program comprised entirely of Alex's chamber works.

Michael Tierra

You can learn more about ARCANA here. score info


Electroacoustic sextet:

Alex's unusual piece for low winds, TRAIN OF THOUGHT, was commissioned by Paul Kile for the Cochran Chamber Commissioning Project, and premiered in Edina, Minnesota on May 22, 2016. Click the title to read the story behind the music. It gives new meaning to the term, "audio track"!

TRAIN OF THOUGHT score cover

Cochran Chamber Winds

Enjoy the demo recording! Performances begin Spring 2016.


Electroacoustic wind band:

One year after leading a consortium of seven schools that commissioned Alex's now-familiar 12-tone Afro-Cuban-grooved TIGHT SQUEEZE (just like Schoenberg!), Composers & Schools in Concert partnered again with Alex on a new piece with an emphasis on visual multimedia, titled LIGHTS OUT. A consortium of 19 schools around the U.S. interacted with Alex via Skype, as she solicited creative visual ideas from the musicians for their Spring 2015 premieres, as well as for inclusion in the published score to inspire other bands. Wanna get a sense of what they all came up with? Click here! read

In February 2016, Alex delivered a third CSIC-led electroacoustic wind band piece for an 18-member consortium, and the new work, titled MOMENT, premiered throughout Spring 2016 around the U.S. You can read about the enivronmental awareness behind the very emotional music here: read

And, March 2016 brought with it an unusual minimalist piece for musicians of all ages titled ROCK MUSIC, commissioned by Patrick Marsh Middle School Band and its adventurous conductor Chris Gleason. The piece, which addresses glacial melting and climate change and includes many extended techniques not heard on the demo below, premiered in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin on May 10, 2016. You can read about it-- and see a video!-- here: read

LIGHTS OUT score cover

MOMENT score cover

ROCK MUSIC score cover

Listen to LIGHTS OUT:
Listen to a demo of MOMENT:
Listen to a demo of ROCK MUSIC:
If you're interested in participating in future consortia, please contact Alex's agent Mark Walker:
; 318-381-3560.


Alex was asked by conductor Joseph Ohrt to compose a short movement for SSAA choir and piano that West Choir premiered at the 2016 Eastern Division ACDA conference in Boston on February 10. The piece, BECAUSE I AM, is part of a suite of nine such others composed by women, that comprises the collective work titled, BECAUSE I AM A WOMAN.

Central Bucks

ACDA Eastern

Listen to the premiere performance:


Flute and guitar:

When the guitar and flute pair that is Bas Duo were looking for something new and quirky to add to their repertoire, they found it in Alex's piece SLIP, originally composed for harpsichord and violin, which Alex has adapted for Bas Duo's 2016-2017 concerts in a new version titled, SLIPPERY, which the duo premiered in New Jersey on May 15, 2016.

Bas Duo


And of course, more electroacoustic wind band:

In addition to their involvement in the 20-school consortium for Alex's 2015 electroacoustic wind band piece, LIGHTS OUT, the students at Edina High will be getting a new Shapiro EA band piece of their own for the 2017-2018 season.

Edina High School

gull toes
The latest interviews

January 25, 2016, on San Juan Island, WA: Alex spent the better part of an afternoon chatting about the business and philosophical aspects of a happy composing career, with composer and Composer on Fire podcast host Garrett Hope. Their wide-ranging conversation is posted in two March 2016 parts, and you can hear it here. listen

Alex Shapiro and Garrett Hope
Composer on Fire

Part 1
hear Part 1
Part 2
hear Part 2
April 15, 2016, from San Juan Island, WA: Alex was the inaugural guest for Dennis Tobenski's new series, Music Publishing Podcast. Despite some technical issues with a Hangout connection that apparently had Alex reaching for her snorkel, she and Dennis had an excellent conversation about the business of being a busy composer. You can stream it in the background while doing something mindless above the mean tide line, by clicking here. listen Music Publishing Podcast
The latest article

Alex was asked to contribute her thoughts to NewMusicBox's April 2016 series about music and money, and delivered a piece titled Let's Make a List, that many college professors are already making required reading for their composition students. In it, Alex offers a detailed road map to point music-makers toward the many revenue streams that can be generated from their copyrights. You can read the essay-- and add to the comment thread with your own suggestions-- by clicking here. read

ACDA Eastern

The latest appearances

April 24, 2016, in Los Angeles: Alex (pictured on the left) was back in the saddle at the Los Angeles Composer Salon series that she co-founded in 2000 with composer Kubilay Uner (pictured second from right). She co-moderated the celebratory 60th event at Tuttomedia Studios in Venice, CA. with Giovanna Imbesi, pictured at right, and a stellar lineup of guests including L-R: Billy Childs, Gloria Cheng, and Deborah Lurie.

L.A. Composer Salon

L.A. Composer Salon


April 28-30, 2016, in Hollywood: The 11th annual ASCAP EXPO brings artists from every genre together for an inspiring conference of workshops, panels, performances and networking at the Loews Hollywood Hotel. Alex gave a lively presentation on a panel about creative uses of multimedia in concert music, titled "Seeing Music: Multimedia Concerts for a Visual World." Picture L-r: Composer Veronika Krausas, Alex, visualists Candace Reckinger and Michael Patterson, and ASCAP VP of Concert Music Cia Toscanini.




May 18, 2016, in Washington, D.C.: Alex returned to Capitol Hill where each spring, members of the Board of Directors of ASCAP and writer members who are strong copyright advocates meet with Senators, members of Congress, and their aides, to keep the message of fair compensation for music creators front and center. The Songwriter Equity Act is among the topics at the core of ASCAP's discussions on Capitol Hill. Over the years Alex has spoken with many Representatives, including Joaquin Castro (D-TX), pictured here with Alex and ASCAP board President and Chairman Paul Williams.

ASCAP Lobbying in Washington, D.C.

The latest residencies
July 23-24, 2016, in Vancouver, B.C.: Alex is delighted be the guest composer at the 4th Annual UBC Wind Conducting Symposium, held at The University of British Columbia School of Music. She will give seminars on conducting and producing electroacoustic music and multimedia concerts. UBC Wind Conducting Symposium
August 2-11, 2016: Alex will join Anne Guzzo as Composers-in-Residence for the inaugural year of The Wyoming Festival. Bringing visiting composers together with world-class performers including violinist Holly Mulcahy, the Festival will be held in Grand Teton National Park at the UW-NPS research station, AMK Ranch. The Wyoming Festival
November 11-13, 2016: Alex will be the Composer-in-Residence at University of Montana, in Missoula, and her visit will include a concert of several of her wind band works. University of Montana
March 4-7, 2017: Alex returns to The University of Hawai'i at Manoa, to work with composition students as well as with Jeffrey Boeckman and the University of Hawai'i Wind Ensemble, which will perform her music. University of Hawai'i
The latest workshop

September 9, 2015, in Nashville, TN: Alex and attorney and publisher Jim Kendrick gave another in their ASCAP Composer Career Workshop series, this time at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee. The 4-hour in-depth seminar on business skills for music-makers is free and open to the public, and if you'd like one to come to your area, drop Alex an email. It's fun, too! For details about this latest workshop, please click here. more info

ASCAP workshop

Trevacca Nazarene University

Orca whale and gull
The latest documentary appearance

From her San Juan Island home, Alex talks about her musical life amidst nature among the opening scenes of director Michael Stillwater's 2015 documentary, In Search of the Great Song. Alex is also the first interview seen in Shining Night, Stillwater's 2012 documentary about composer Morten Lauridsen, and jokes that the director is not allowed to make a film that does not include her at the very start.

In Search of the Great Song

You can enjoy previews of both beautiful documentaries here. previews
The latest publications


Over the past decade, Susanne Kessel has recorded and toured with two of Alex's short solo piano works, FOR MY FATHER, and SLOWLY, SEARCHING. On October 6 2014, Kessel once again recorded a new short work of Alex's, CHORD HISTORY, on the gorgeous Steinway at WDR Radio in Cologne, Germany, for a CD coming out on Obst Records in June 2016.

The piece is a small part of Kessel's wide-ranging 2014-2020 CD project and tour, 250 Pieces for Beethoven, celebrating the upcoming 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, with whom Kessel shares a Bonn, Germany heritage (though definitely not his reportedly sour personality). It's included in Volume 1, a 152 page book of the first 25 pieces in the series, published by Editions Musica Ferrum.

250 Pieces for Beethoven

You can learn more about CHORD HISTORY here. score info

June, September, 2014: Alex's brain is about 8,000 words lighter: she's written an extensive two-part article echoing the clinic presentations on new media in the band world that she gave at The 2013 Midwest Clinic and the 2014 Texas Music Educators Association Conference. The essay, titled The e-Frontier: Music, Multimedia, Education, and Audiences in the Digital World, appears in the June and September 2014 issues of the magazine of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, WASBE World.


Read the full article, offered with the kind permission of WASBE.


Two of Alex's electroacoustic wind band pieces, PAPER CUT, and TIGHT SQUEEZE, are featured in the educational book/CD series, Teaching Music Through Performance in Band, Volume 10, edited by Eugene Migliaro Corporon and released by GIA Publications December 2014.

Teaching Music Through Performance

You can learn more about this book/CD set here. info
The newest appointments

March, 2015: Alex was elected to the Board of Directors of ASCAP, to serve as the Symphonic & Concert writer representative. She began serving in this capacity in April 2014 when she was elected by the board to fill the mid-term vacancy of the seat previously held for over twenty years by the late, esteemed composer Stephen Paulus.


July, 2015: New Music USA is a major national arts advocacy organization which provides over $1 million each year in grant support for the creation and performance of new work and community building throughout the country. Alex co-chairs its Program Council, an advisory committee of people working in the field. New Music USA
October, 2015: Alex is very pleased to serve as a member of the Columbia College Chicago Music Department Advisory Panel, exploring what contemporary education should offer to students to best prepare them for productive, happy careers. Columbia College
December, 2015: Composers Now is an important organization that celebrates the diverse music of living composers, and Alex is delighted to have joined its Distinguished Mentors Council. Click here to learn about the February 2016 Festival, as well as other upcoming events across New York City throughout the year! Composers Now
December, 2015: Alex was elected to the Board of Directors of The ASCAP Foundation, which provides funding for a remarkably broad scope of composers and performers working in nearly every genre. Click here to peruse the site! The ASCAP Foundation


To see Alex's recent travels, visit Event Archive Archive
musical sea creature


Full streams of some recent premieres:

May 10, 2014: Commemorating the 140th anniversary of Carthage College's wind band, LIQUID COMPASS takes the musicians and the audience on a journey across the sea, and spans the mystical and the triumphant. The piece migrates to different places, but never loses its bearings in pursuit of a musical true north.

Featuring the live resonance of water dripping into metal bowls, this piece is not only electro-acoustic, but electro-aquatic! LIQUID COMPASS allows electricity and water to mix safely! Liquid Compass

Liquid Compass poster

Enjoy the Carthage College Band's recording, conducted by James Ripley (full piece; 9:00):


San Juan Island, from above

August, 2013: REMEMBRANCE, Alex's emotional work for string orchestra, was very beautifully brought to an audience for the first time on August 6, 2013 in Washington D.C., by the U.S. Army Strings conducted by Major Tod. A. Addison. Click here if you'd like to read about the evolution of the piece. read

The U.S. Army Strings
a fox digging lounge chill music.

February 8, 2013: KETTLE BREW was premiered by its co-composer David Jarvis at Washington State University, during Alex's visit as the guest composer for WSU's Festival of Contemporary Art Music. The electroacoustic piece is the result of a very fun collaboration that brings the words "funk timpani" and "lounge chill" together for [we're guessing] the first time. Click here to read the story of how this happened. read

David Jarvis

Shapiro and Jarvis

an endless summer sunset at 48.5 degrees lat.


Listen to excerpts from other Shapiro premieres:

February, 2012: PERPETUAL SPARK, Alex's latest chamber sextet, was heard in six Chicago-area concerts throughout February and into March, premiered by familiar partners to her musical crimes, Fifth House Ensemble,which recorded the work fall 2013 for their 2014 CD, Excelsior, produced by Judith Sherman, on Cedille Records. Featured as WQXR's Q2 Album of the Week in New York City, and one of Rhapsody's Top Ten Classical Albums for Sept. 2014, the track and what WQXR calls its "luminous energy" has been getting wide airplay across the U.S.

Dedicated to the late Mara Bershad, this piece for flute/piccolo, violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano, originally came to life as SPARK for solo piano, premiered by Teresa McCollough at Roulette in New York City in November 2011. You can enjoy Teresa's performance of SPARK at the 22-minute mark of the first stream, along with all the concert selections, from the archival page made available by Roulette, here. read

Excelsior CD
Earlier in the piece:
Listen to excerpts of PERPETUAL SPARK from Fifth House Ensemble's live premiere performance at the Chicago Cultural Center:
A bit later in the piece:



Read about

Flute/piccolo, clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano. Performed live in New York City April 2011, by Lunatics at Large.

Unabashedly More Listen to excerpts  
Earlier in the piece
Later in the piece




Want to hear exactly how Alex's island environment influences her music? Click on the excerpts, or listen to it stream in its entirety, below.

Read about

Symphony for winds, percussion and digital audio. Live premiere February 2011 in Minneapolis by the University of Minnesota Symphonic Band, Jerry Luckhardt, conductor.

Listen to excerpts  
Mov't 1: Depth
Mov't 2: Surface
Mov't 3: Beneath, clip 1
Mov't 3: Beneath, clip 2

February 15, 2012:
For a three-hour broadcast devoted to her music, Alex joined Marvin Rosen for his radio show out of Princeton University, Classical Discoveries, during which they broadcast all of IMMERSION, and spoke about how the piece came into existence.

Enjoy the live premiere performance, February 16, 2011, by the University of Minnesota Symphonic Wind Band, Jerry Luckhardt, conductor. Recorded by Minnesota Public Radio; Produced by Alex Shapiro.


Listen to Alex describe IMMERSION, and hear the full symphony:

MPR stream


For info about other performances, visit Concerts Concerts



Alex Shap..gurgle..iro


Recordings of Alex's music:
Shapiro chamber music collection

Notes from the Kelp CD


Now in its second pressing, the Innova Recordings release of Alex's album, Notes from the Kelp, is a collection of eight of Alex's representative chamber works. To read about the music and hear excerpts, click here more


Add some algae to your life and buy a copy:


Or, download and enjoy all the tracks right now:

iTunes link
eMusic link
Complete discography


Click on any CD for more information.


New American Piano Music
Hammers & Sticks
Coast to Coast
Californian Concert
New American
Piano Music:
Sonata for Piano

Music for
Hammers & Sticks:
At the Abyss

For My Father

Above and Beyond
Beck and Call
Solo Rumores
Saxtronic Soundscape
Delicate Balance
Above and Beyond:

Beck and Call:
Of Breath & Touch

Solo Rumores:

Saxtronic Soundscape:
Desert Tide

Delicate Balance:
Water Crossing

La Discordantia
60 x 60
Jenni Scott
Trumpet Colors
La Discordantia:
60 x 60 2005:
Jenni Scott:
Shiny Kiss
Trio Chromos:
Perpetual Spark
The Dreams of Birds
Garrison Festival
An Robert Schumann
Alex Shapiro
Below: Music for Low Flutes:
The Dreams of Birds:
Garrison Piano Competition:
An Robert Schumann:
Slowly, searching
Alex Shapiro:
Notes from the Kelp
Midwest Clinic 2011
Midwest Clinic 2013
Midwest Clinic:
Paper Cut
Water Crossing
Midwest Clinic:
Tight Squeeze


To listen to these CDs, please visit Recordings Recordings

To purchase these CDs, please visit Purchase Purchase

cormorants at the ferry dock


Where Alex's music can be heard live:


Below is an incomplete sampling of current concerts. Click on any title for more information.


  Jan 15 Of Breath and Touch (bassoon and piano)
Los Angeles, California
  Jan 24 Immersion (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Minneapolis, Minnesota
  Feb 6 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Mechanicsville, Virginia
  Feb 7 Because I Am (SSAA choir and piano Pre-PREMIERE!)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  Feb 7 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  Feb 11 Because I Am (SSAA choir and piano PREMIERE!)
Boston, Massachusetts
  Feb 12 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Cullowhee, North Carolina
  Feb 17 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  Feb 20 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Hot Springs, Arkansas
  Feb 21 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Astoria, Oregon
  Feb 21 Intermezzo (clarinet, piano)
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  Feb 22 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Boulder, Colorado
  Feb 24 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Reno, Nevada
  Feb 26 Spark (solo piano)
Coral Gables, Florida
  Mar 1 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Munnsville, New York
  Mar 7 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Faribault, Minnesota
  Mar 7 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Fayetteville, Arkansas
  Mar 10 Liquid Compass (symphonic wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
New London, Connecticut
  Mar 10 Water Crossing (clarinet, prerecorded soundscape)
Columbus, Ohio
  Mar 13 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Greencastle, Illinois
  Mar 14 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Endwell, New York
  Mar 19 Tight Squeeze, and Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Lancaster, California
  Mar 19 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  Mar 20 All-Shapiro Chamber Music Concert: 7 works, including Arcana (PREMIERE!)
Santa Cruz, California
  Mar 21 Music for Two Big Instruments (tuba, piano)
Tempe, Arizona
  Mar 22 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Owatonna, Minnesota
  Mar 23 Luvina (solo piano)
Guanajuato, Mexico
  Apr 14 Homecoming (concert wind band)
Ithaca, New York
  Apr 17 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
San Antonio, Texas
  Apr 19 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Storrs, Connecticut
  Apr 21 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Lincoln, Nebraska
  Apr 21 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
San Marcos, Texas
  Apr 21 Immersion (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Marshall, Minnesota
  Apr 22 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Mankato, Minnesota
  Apr 22 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper, with ballet!)
Minneapolis, Minnesota
  Apr 23 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper, with ballet!)
Minneapolis, Minnesota
  Apr 24 Immersion (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Whitewater, Wisconsin
  Apr 26 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape-- CONSORTIUM PREMIERE!)
Atglen, Pennsylvania
  Apr 27 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape-- CONSORTIUM PREMIERE!)
Memphis, Tennessee
  Apr 28 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
  Apr 29 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper, with ballet!)
Minneapolis, Minnesota
  Apr 30 All-Shapiro Wind Band Concert: Lights Out, Tight Squeeze, Liquid Compass, and Homecoming
Laval, France
  Apr 30 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper, with ballet!)
Minneapolis, Minnesota
  May 1 All-Shapiro Wind Band Concert: Lights Out, Tight Squeeze, Liquid Compass, and Homecoming
Laval, France
  May 1 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape-- CONSORTIUM PREMIERE!)
Fayetteville, Arkansas
  May 1 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper, with ballet!)
Minneapolis, Minnesota
  May 2 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Laramie, Wyoming
  May 3 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape-- CONSORTIUM PREMIERE!)
Ames, Iowa
  May 3 Tight Squeeze; Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Loganville, Georgia
  May 3 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Elk Grove, California
  May 4 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape-- CONSORTIUM PREMIERE!)
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  May 4 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Elk Grove, California
  May 5 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape-- CONSORTIUM PREMIERE!)
Jensen Beach, Florida
  May 6 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Jacksonville, Florida
  May 6 Immersion (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Kansas City, Missouri
  May 7 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Jeju, South Korea
  May 7 Immersion (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Kansas City, Missouri
  May 7 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Edwards, Colorado
  May 10 Rock Music (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape-- PREMIERE!)
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
  May 10 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Springdale, Arkansas
  May 11 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape-- CONSORTIUM PREMIERE!)
Loveland, Ohio
  May 11 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Muscoda, Wisconsin
  May 11 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape-- CONSORTIUM PREMIERE!)
Union City, California
  May 11 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Ferndale, Michigan
  May 11 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Spanish Fork, Utah
  May 12 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape-- CONSORTIUM PREMIERE!)
Fountain, Colorado
  May 12 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Del Rio, Texas
  May 12 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape-- CONSORTIUM PREMIERE!)
Gilford, New Hampshire
  May 15 Slippery (flute, guitar-- PREMIERE!)
Allendale, New Jersey
  May 16 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Des Moines, Iowa
  May 16 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Leander, Texas
  May 16 Rock Music (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
  May 18 Vista (violin, prerecorded soundscape)
Mannheim, Germany
  May 19 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape-- CONSORTIUM PREMIERE!)
Buckley, Washington
  May 19 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape-- CONSORTIUM PREMIERE!)
Atglen, Pennsylvania
  May 22 Train of Thought (sextet for low winds, prerecorded soundscape-- PREMIERE!)
Edina, Minnesota
  May 25 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape-- CONSORTIUM PREMIERE!)
Burien, Washington
  May 26 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
West Orange, New Jersey
  June 2 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
San Diego, California
  Sept 9 Vista (violin, prerecorded soundscape)
Water Mill, New York


For information about these and other performances, visit Concerts Concerts
Alex Shapiro, photo by Paul Chepikian


Among the new Activist Music publications:


As if the original flute quartet version of Alex's ground-breaking 2004, BIOPLASM, wasn't texturally intense enough, conductor Michelle Grondin worked with Alex to create a version of this sonically squishy piece for an entire choir of flutes. Click here to read about-- and see a few pages of-- the music. Bioplasm, for choir

Bioplasm, for flute choir
Listen to excerpts from the quartet version of BIOPLASM, and imagine them played by lots of long shiny objects:
Singing while playing
Pitch bending, etc.
Pitched key clicks
Yes, some regular stuff, too!
Alex Shapiro
Solo piano works


A [non-performing!] pianist herself, Alex has always loved composing for the instrument, and Activist Music has now created a collection of her solo piano works, available as a set of .pdf downloads. Ranging from short offerings to multimovement works, these idiomatic pieces uncover a very broad swath of emotions. To have a look and a listen to the collection, please click here Piano works

Dr. Elizabeth Etnoyer has published her 2015 doctoral dissertation, The Keyboard Works of Alex Shapiro. To read the synopsis and order a pdf or hard copy of the book, please click here.



To see and hear Alex's catalog, visit Works Works



Burnt orange sunrise over the Salish sea


And now for something completely different:
Clemson University Memorial Stadium

Alex called upon her 15 years working in commercial music in Hollywood, and got into the team spirit with the Clemson University Tiger Band! In 2015 she was commissioned by band director Mark Spede to create the audio track to which Clemson University edited a video for the Jumbotron screens in its 85,000 seat Memorial stadium. The video-- which you can see below-- plays during every football game starting September 2015, as the 290 musicians of the Tiger Marching Band pour out on to the field to perform. Go Tigers!

Archipelago view


Meet Alex:

"…Shapiro has tremendous technical skills, a deep connection to nature, and an engaging and articulate personality that has gotten her multifariously involved in the new-classical-music world… She gets more performances than any one person could attend, and despite her nature wonderland she’s socially inclined…"

--Journalist and composer Kyle Gann, Chamber Music magazine.

Chamber Music
Click to read Kyle Gann's
insightful article

Hear Alex's response when asked to describe how she composes, in this :60 excerpt from a June 2010 interview she gave to Carey Nadeau from the American Composers Forum:



For a lot more of Alex, visit Biography Essays
Mt. Baker



Alex Shapiro in her San Juan Island studio.
A still from a February 2016 Skypehearsal Alex did from her studio.

Essays, such as:


Offering challenging thoughts on the new digital paradigm, the internet, free speech and the meaning of net neutrality to all artists, a number of Alex's articles have been published in essays for the online magazine NewMusicBox:

Read The Economy of Exposure: Publicity as Payment? here read

Read What I Learned About My Tiny Business From Paramount Pictures here read

Read As Important as the Printing Press: Net Neutrality and Artists' Freedom here read


Guest blogs, such as:


Greg Sandow is the author of an insightful blog on the future of classical music, and invited Alex to be a guest blogger in March 2013. Click here to see what she has to say about the fun of living in the middle of nowhere and being in the center of everywhere, in an essay titled E-ing there read


Video podcasts, such as: is a weekly online series for, and by, music-makers, and Alex was the guest for their April 14, 2013 episode. Click here to stream or download Alex's concepts of how all composers can use the 21st Century tools available to them no matter where they live, as well as her thoughts on issues of self worth that artists of all genders face, on this podcast titled Out There watch


Broadcasts, such as:

On February 15, 2012, Alex was the in-studio guest on Marvin Rosen's radio show broadcast from Princeton University, Classical Discoveries. Want some backgorund sound while you're doing other things? Click at right, and hear the entire MP3 stream of their exceptionally wide-spanning, lively two-and-a-half hour conversation, including seven of Alex's diverse works. Here's what Marvin has to say about it on his blog, Marvin the Cat.


Rosen and Shapiro


For many more essays and interviews, visit Articles and Broadcasts Archive


Additional media:
Music libraries, such as:


The leading production music library in America, Omnimusic, has launched its latest special collection titled MusicOutsideTheBox, and it includes many tracks of Alex Shapiro's unique and unclassifiable-sounding music, available to license for film, TV, games or corporate and online media.

Omni Music

Art films, such as:


Alex's music is the soundtrack for REFLECTION, a short video created by artist Grimanesa Amoros. The video was premiered in December 2011 at the International Streaming Festival, Sixth Edition at the Hague in the Netherlands, and is included in Amoros's 2013 Video Retrospective in Lima, Peru. An excerpt of the video can be seen here video

Amoros video, REFLECTION

Books, such as:


Alex is the author of "Releasing a Student's Inner Composer," one of the chapters in the 2013 book, "Musicianship: Composing in Band and Orchestra." The book, edited by Clint Randles and David Stringham, is published by GIA Publications.


Documentary appearances, such as:


In a segment filmed at her San Juan Island home, Alex is featured speaking about composer Morten Lauridsen at the opening of a beautiful film about his life and music, titled Shining Night. Winner of Best Documentary at the 2012 Washington, D.C. Independent Film Festival, the film was directed by Michael Stillwater, and has been screening at festivals in the U.S. and Europe in conjunction with the release of the DVD. You can enjoy a trailer of the film here. trailer

Alex also appears in a longer segment at the opening Stillwater's 2015 documentary, In Search of the Great Song, speaking about the many inspirations for her music as BELOW, in which she features a Humpback whale song, plays as the underscore.

Shining Night

In Search of the Great Song

Photography, such as:


Visitors to Alex's blog know she's rarely without her camera, and her photos have been used for other people's CD covers and websites. Alex is one of the winners of the 2012 IMA Marine Life Photography Contest, hosted by the San Juan Islands Museum of Art and judged by the legendary Ernest Brooks II. Alex's photo of a Bald Eagle headed straight toward her hung in the museum throughout the summer, alongside Brooks's stunning Silver Seas exhibit. That bird also spent the summer of 2013 hanging in Seattle's Museum of Flight, as a selection for its Spirit of Flight exhibit. The photo, Incoming!, (also a first prize winner at the 2012 San Juan County Fair!) can be viewed slightly larger, by clicking on the bird. photo



For much more about Alex's recent activities, visit Event Archive Archive
Island fox


A sampling of what Alex sounds like:

The best thing about composers' websites is that they're sonic business cards! Click the MP3 icon to hear an excerpt. Click the title to learn more about it. Alex's education and career have allowed her voice to be expressed in music for...

Alex Shapiro, photo by Paul Chepikian
chamber ensembles


film, TV and games
symphonic wind bands




jazz groups




indie pop songs
  hear   hear




and even country pop.



Alex at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2014
Happily surrounded by brass, at NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art, June 2014.

Alex Shapiro, photo by Paul Chepikian

Alex calls herself a pan-genre composer, with a penchant for organically spanning across idioms, often within a single piece. One of the most welcoming sonic worlds for her unique voice has been that of symphonic wind band, for which she's been composing electroacoustic works unlike anything else in the repertoire.



To explore Alex's works for band, visit: Wind band Wind band


How did this mostly-chamber music composer get into writing for symphonic band? Listen to Alex describe how it happened, in this two-minute excerpt from an interview she gave to Carey Nadeau from the American Composers Forum in June 2010.

(Quick! Click, if only to release Alex's otherwise normal-looking face from this silly still from the video):

To experience the entire catalog, please visit Works Works

Want to hear much more? Visit Alex's original Dial-a-Mood Dial-a-Mood

To order scores to these and other works, please visit Purchase Purchase

In addition to traditionally bound scores and parts, music is available at half price as .pdf files.
Purchase pdfs

Alex sailing in the San Juans
Alex sailing in the San Juan Islands, October 2011


Alex loves coaching and teaching...


Alex really enjoys interacting with students and faculty during residencies, in which she spends a few days at a university and gives master classes, private composition lessons, and lectures on the changing paradigm of the music business, and attends rehearsals and performances of her music. But when budgets and schedules don't allow for travel, Skype (or a Google Hangout) has become the next best thing.

Whether for a rehearsal of a concert wind band piece or chamber work, or to bring Alex right into your lecture hall for an interactive discussion about the music business, Skype is a great tool. Alex's live feedback is valuable, and musicians love it when Alex turns her camera around to show them a source of her inspiration: the sea at her feet, with the occasional Bald Eagle or Orca whale gliding past. The technology brings a unique dimension into the art of collaborative music-making, and connects students to the person-- and sometimes to the very funny stories-- behind the notes on the music stands.

A Jan. 2012 Skypehearsal with Alex in her studio on San Juan Island, and guest conductor Jerry Luckhardt on the podium at Oregon State University, rehearsing BENEATH.

A December 2012 Skypehearsal with Alex in her studio on San Juan Island, and band director Mary Bauer and Mt. Mansfield Union High School in Vermont,
rehearsing PAPER CUT.
The view from Alex's desk- with Bald Egle and rainbow!


For more about online coaching, please visit Skypehearsals Email Alex

Alex Shapiro, photo by Paul Chepikian

Private mentoring:

Alex Shapiro has a private teaching studio for those wishing to study composition and/or business skills with her online. She offers instruction in the many ways to use one's web presence to generate income, as well as specific consultations in music copying, publishing, promotion, and other necessary professional skills for today's composers.

A familiar guest lecturer at universities and conservatories, Alex is available to speak to music and business school classes.


To inquire about lessons, email Alex Email Alex

Alex sailing a Farr 65
Alex sailing a 65' racing sloop in Jamaica, January 2011


Alex loves to speak to audiences...
CD Party and lecture

Alex speaks at many events and motivates people in and outside of the music world. Whether discussing music-making, the new digital paradigm, the philosophy of self worth, or the importance of a sense of humor, Alex is an engaging and encouraging presenter who's been referred to by more than a few people as "the Anthony Robbins of contemporary music, but a lot shorter."


To see a video and obtain booking information, click here Speaking
Alex Shapiro, photo by Paul Chepikian


Keeping up with Alex...
Get online with Alex!
Interact! Become one of Alex's online friends
and share your world with her.
Linked In
Internet networking sites have brought many wonderful collaborations and commissions to Alex's virtual doorstep. Enjoy watching one of her MySpace friends, artist Simon Kenevan, make a pastel study for his painting 'Afternoon Sun,' to her Phos Hilaron:


Alex loves hearing from visitors, so don't be shy if you'd like to send her an email. To join the mailing list for concert information and news of Alex Shapiro CD releases, click here email

Your contact information will not be shared with anyone for any reason, even if sharks surround Alex's kayak and demand it. Promise!

offshore Malibu



A note from Alex...
Alex Shapiro, photo by Paul Chepikian

My compositions are a very personal expression, but I also write to give musicians pieces which they'll really enjoy playing, and to offer audiences music which will speak to them directly and emotionally. As with the sea which surrounds me here on San Juan Island, there's an ebb and flood to this happy relationship. I compose music because I have to, without expectation that others will resonate with it, yet with the hope that many might. My art is a tidepool, inviting others to enter and... with luck, thrive.

Composing is a lot like making love. We're trying to please ourselves. We're hoping to please at least one other person. And, we are in fact, communicating. Passionately. I compose to communicate, and ideally, my work will show you not only a glimpse of me, but a reflection of yourself.


The intimacy of the magic triangle of composer, musicians and audience is what draws me to compose. In the midst of writing, I love exploring and balancing the voice of each instrument within a group, whether a small chamber ensemble or a symphonic band. When I have the opportunity to rehearse one of my pieces with players, it's exciting to be part of the volley of interpretations and personalities. Music lives through the art of others.

Finally, when the new piece is performed, the triangle between me, the musicians and the audience is complete. A musical idea which was formerly a personal impression has now become a public gesture.


I compose
to communicate.

tide pools
tide pools

Alex at the helm

A major inspiration for my music has been the gorgeous coastal areas in which I've lived; water seems to be an inescapable theme in my life. I grew up in Manhattan, overlooking first the East River, then later, living by the Hudson. At 21, I moved to southern California and spent most of my 24 years there at the shore in Malibu and even afloat on the water itself, living part-time on a sailboat in Santa Barbara.

Now, it's the serenity of Washington State's remote San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea that makes my muses so happy. When I'm not composing, I'm marveling at the abundant shoreline life a few steps from my house, and in the tidepools directly beneath my studio. This connection to the natural world has become as necessary to me now as urban life was to me years ago.

I've developed a little hobby of capturing in photographs the creatures and the small, yet remarkable moments that define my daily life here. This website is riddled with them, and you can experience more of this joy with me via my blog, Notes From the Kelp blog




When I'm not composing,
I'm marveling at the
abundant shoreline life
a few steps from my house.




No composer writes in a vacuum; our output is the result of musical history. My own voice is inspired by the chromaticism and angularity of Alban Berg and Anton Webern, the lyricism of Johannes Brahms, Maurice Ravel and Bill Evans, and the rhythms of Middle Eastern and African cultures. With luck, the notes come out sounding something like... Shapiro. You can listen to brief samples of all my recent pieces on the pages of this website and draw your own opinion.

I'm convinced that there has never been a better time to be a composer. There are no longer stylistic boundaries limiting our expression, and thanks to tools such as websites like this, we can share our explorations with the world, regardless of where we choose to live. I get a lot of joy from encouraging my peers to take full advantage of the freedom and power artists now possess.

Traditionally, a composer's catalog of pieces is viewed by instrumentation, and you'll find such a listing on the WORKS Works page of this site. But I think that the music itself and the emotions it elicits are the best indicator of what a writer has to say, and so I put together the DIAL-A-MOOD Dial-a-Mood page to offer a quick sampling of a variety of styles. It's almost as interactive as I am.


Ideally, my music
will show you not only
a glimpse of me,
but a reflection
of yourself.

Alex Shapiro, photo by Paul Chepikian

So, there's a bit about me and what motivates my work as a composer. If you'd like to read a little more on my thoughts about composers, listeners and life in general, my musings continue here essays

Or, begin clicking around the other pages on this site to learn more about my background, read about my recent pieces and hear audio clips of my music. Drop me an email if you feel like it; I love hearing from people around the world. Enjoy!


Whiz back up to the top!


island fox
Alex Shapiro, composer
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