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The San Juan Islands

Alex Shapiro

(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 radio show

Composers Datebook is a daily two-minute syndicated radio program produced by American Public Media in association with the American Composers Forum. The series highlights moments in music history of the past and the present, and its February 11, 2017 segment features Alex Shapiro and the anniversary of the premiere of her sonata for tuba and piano titled Music for Two Big Instruments. You can listen to host John Zech's amusing description by clicking here and then clicking the "play" arrow at the top of the page listen

Composers Datebook-Shapiro

The latest CD releases

Solo piano:

German pianist Susanne Kessel has released the first 2-CD set of her five-year project, 250 Piano Pieces for Beethoven, on Obst. You can read more about the project below, and more about the CD, here read

Listen to an excerpt:


250 Pieces for Beethoven, Vol. 1 CD


Electroacoustic symphonic wind band:

The DePauw University Band, conducted by Craig Paré, has released their 2016 CD titled Everything Beautiful, which includes two of Alex's electroacoustic symphonic band pieces: LIQUID COMPASS, and TIGHT SQUEEZE. Click here for more info! read

Listen to an excerpt from LIQUID COMPASS:



Listen to an excerpt from TIGHT SQUEEZE:


Everything Beautiful CD


Electroacoustic clarinet:

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

Listen to an excerpt:


Atmospheres CD

The latest commissions and premieres


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"!

Kile joins conductor Adam Campagna and several other participants in a consortium that has commissioned Alex to create a version of the piece for full symphonic wind band. The new work, titled TRAINS OF THOUGHT, will begin premieres in the winter of 2018.

TRAIN OF THOUGHT score cover

Cochran Chamber Winds

Enjoy the demo recording!


Electroacoustic wind band:

Band director Jim Mobley loves the fresh genre of electroacoustic wind band music, and believes that there should be more such pieces in the repertoire— especially for younger musicians to perform. He put together the N-BEAM consortium, which over the course of three years, will support the addition of three new Grade 2.5 EA works to the concert band world. Composers Daniel Montoya and Benjamin Taylor will write pieces for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and Alex Shapiro will deliver a new work that will premiere in 2020. Interested in being a participant in this unique and wonderful adventure? Click here: read


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 MOMENT:
Listen to ROCK MUSIC:
If you're interested in participating in future consortia,
please contact Activist Music!

Flute and percussion:

Flutist Tessa Brinckman and percussionist Terry Longshore of Caballito Negro have embarked on a multi-tiered commission with Alex for which she will compose an electroacoustic duet, and soon after adapt it for the duo to perform with flute and percussion ensembles. The first iteration of the new piece will premiere in the Spring of 2018.

Caballito Negro


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 resulting 20 minute piece, titled, ARCANA, premiered in Santa Cruz, California on March 20, 2016, on a program comprised entirely of Alex's chamber works.

Tierra commissioned an additional version of the piece that pairs the sonorities of live piano with evocative textures and sounds of a prerecorded accompaniment track, for an electroacoustic experience titled ARCANA PLANET that Tierra premiered in Santa Cruz, CA. on March 23, 2017.

Michael Tierra

You can learn more about ARCANA here score info


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 2016: Alex spent the better part of an afternoon chatting about the business and philosophical aspects of a happy composing career, with composer and The Portfolio Composer podcast host Garrett Hope (pictured at right). Their wide-ranging conversation over drinks in Alex's San Juan Island, WA living room, is posted in two March 2016 parts, and you can hear it here. listen

Alex Shapiro and Garrett Hope
The Portfolio Composer

Part 1
hear Part 1
Part 2
hear Part 2

May 2017 and April 2016: In May 2017, Alex returned to MPP to join co-hosts Dennis Tobenski and mezzo-soprano Megan Ihnen for a discussion about the wide range of creative commissioning techniques available to performers and composers.

The previous April, Alex was the inaugural guest for composer 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

February, 2017: Alex was interviewed by host and composer Anthony Lanman on his podcast series, 1 Track, for a conversation about her electroacoustic music. Juxtaposing two related works that share the same accompaniment track (BELOW, for contrabass flute, and BENEATH, for symphonic wind band), Alex A/B'ed identical sections of each piece, allowing the listening audience to experience the power of different orchestrations in eliciting different emotion. Click here to listen! listen

1 Track 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

June 7-10, 2017, in Lisbon, Portugal: Alex was invited to represent the writer members of ASCAP at the Executive Committee meetings for CIAM, the International Council Of Music Authors. The Council was formed by CISAC, the global collective of performing rights societies, and is comprised of creator members of performing rights music organizations around the world.

Shapiro at CIAM ExCo meeting

April 26, 2017, 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. Known as "Stand with Songwriters" Advocacy Day, the office visits are preceded by an inspiring evening concert at the Library of Congress called, "We Write the Songs," where policy makers enjoy performances by some of the world's top ASCAP creators.

Over the years Alex has spoken with many Representatives, including Joaquin Castro (D-TX), pictured here in May 2016 with Alex and ASCAP board President and Chairman Paul Williams.

View of the Capitol from ASCAP's van on lobbying day

ASCAP Lobbying in Washington, D.C.


April 13-15, 2017, in Hollywood: The 12th annual ASCAP EXPO brought artists from every genre together for an inspiring conference of workshops, panels, performances and networking at the Loews Hollywood Hotel. Alex spoke on a panel tited "Getting Credit Where Credit is Due," addressing the need for accurate attribution across all genres and in all uses of digital media, alongside songwriter and performer Aloe Blacc, songwriter and fellow ASCAP Board member Desmond Child, attorney and panel moderator Dina LaPolt, and Auddly founder Niclas Molinder (pictured L-R). You can read about the animated discussion-- which included comments from Pandora's head of publisher licensing Adam Parness during the Q&A by clicking here. read

At the 2016 EXPO, 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." Pictured L-R: Composer Veronika Krausas, Alex, visualists Candace Reckinger and Michael Patterson, and ASCAP VP of Concert Music Cia Toscanini.





December 14, 2016, in New York City: The ASCAP Foundation Awards event honors emerging and distinguished music creators from a broad array of genres, and this year Alex was honored to present the Life in Music Award to renowned composer Morten Lauridsen. For information, click here more info

Lauridsen and Shapiro

November 4-6, 2016, in Friday Harbor: Alex handled the Q&A sessions with the Friday Harbor Film Festival audiences for four screenings of two documentary films in which she and her music appear: SHINING NIGHT, and IN SEARCH OF THE GREAT SONG, both directed by Michael Stillwater. For information, click here!more info

Friday Harbor Film Festival

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

The latest residencies

April 10-11, 2017: Alex will be at University of Minnesota, speaking with the conducting students as well as the instrumentalists.

University of Minnesota

February 25-26, 2017: Alex returned 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 performed two of Alex's works: HOMECOMING, and MOMENT. Click HERE for more info.

University of Hawai'i

December 7, 2016: Alex was a guest speaker and gave her multimedia presentation on electroacoustic wind band music to the composition students at Columbia College.

Columbia College

December 6, 2016: Alex came to Chicago to work with the musicians at Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts. In addition to lectures and private lessons all day, the evening featured a concert conducted by Stephen Squires that included three of Alex's wind band works: BENEATH, LIQUID COMPASS, and LIGHTS OUT. For info, click HERE.

Roosevelt University

November 11-13, 2016: Alex was the Composer-in-Residence at University of Montana, in Missoula, and her visit included two concerts featuring three of her recent wind band works: ROCK MUSIC, MOMENT, and LIQUID COMPASS, conducted by James Smart and Parker Bixby. For more info, click HERE.

University of Montana

August 2-11, 2016: Alex joined composer and Festival founder Anne Guzzo to be the Composer-in-Residence for the inaugural year of The Wyoming Festival. Bringing visiting composers together with world-class performers including violinist Holly Mulcahy, the Festival included two concerts held in Grand Teton National Park at the Craig Thomas Visitor Center Auditorium, and the UW-NPS AMK Ranch research station.

The Wyoming Festival

July 23-24, 2016, in Vancouver, B.C.: Alex was the guest composer at the 4th Annual UBC Wind Conducting Symposium, held at The University of British Columbia School of Music. Conductor and host Rob Taylor chose electroacoustic wind band music as the focus for the Symposium, and Alex gave an in-depth presentation on conducting and producing electroacoustic music and multimedia concerts. To top it off, Rob set up an "electroacoustic petting zoo," allowing any of the 45 conductors in attendance to come up to the podium, don a set of headphones, get comfortable with a click track, and conduct one of Alex's wind band pieces!

UBC Wind Conducting Symposium
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!

ASCAP workshop
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, winner of the award for Best Documentary from the 2016 Moondance International Film Festival in Boulder, CO. 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 released on Obst in July 2016.

The piece is a small part of Kessel's wide-ranging 2014-2020 CD project and tour, 250 Piano 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

June, 2017: Alex flew to Lisbon, Portugal to represent ASCAP at the Executive Committee meetings for CIAM, the International Council Of Music Authors. The Council was formed by CISAC, the global collective of performing rights societies, and immediately preceeding the CIAM meetings, Alex attended CISAC's General Assembly. In early November 2017, she flies to Tokyo to speak on a panel about the future of collective rights management at CIAM's general assembly.


November, 2016: Alex is honored to have been elected to the Board of Directors of The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, which provides financial support for myriad composers and musicians seeking assistance in launching recording and performance projects, and handles permissions for uses of Copland's music. Click here to peruse the site!

Aaron Copland Fund for Music

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 was an inaugural co-chair of its Program Council, an advisory committee of people working in the field, and continues to serve as a member.

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
Everything Beautiful
Delicate Balance
Above and Beyond:

Beck and Call:
Of Breath & Touch
Solo Rumores:

DePauw University:
Liquid Compass
Tight Squeeze
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
250 Piano Pieces for Beethoven, Vol. 1
Below: Music for Low Flutes:
The Dreams of Birds:
Garrison Piano Competition:
An Robert Schumann:
Slowly, searching
250 Piano Pieces for Beethoven:
Chord History
Alex Shapiro
Midwest Clinic 2011
Midwest Clinic 2013
Saxtronic Soundscape
Alex Shapiro:
Notes from the Kelp
Midwest Clinic:
Paper Cut
Water Crossing
Midwest Clinic:
Tight Squeeze
Saxtronic Soundscape:
Desert Tide


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 8 Intermezzo (solo piano)
Princeton, New Jersey
  Jan 14 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Bentonville, Arkansas
  Jan 15 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Flanders, New Jersey
  Jan 21 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Springdale, Arkansas
  Jan 27 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Wollbach, Germany
  Jan 27 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Dortmund, Germany
  Jan 28 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Peoria, Illinois
  Jan 28 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Hot Springs, Arkansas
  Jan 28 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Wollbach, Germany
  Jan 28 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Ozark, Arkansas
  Jan 30 Kettle Brew (timpani, mixed percussion, prerecorded soundscape)
Mannheim, Germany
  Feb 4 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Denver, Colorado
  Feb 4 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Memphis, Tennessee
  Feb 4 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Colorado Springs, Colorado
  Feb 6 Re:pair (flute and oboe )
Ann Arbor, Michigan
  Feb 6 Liquid Compass (symphonic wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
San Antonio, Texas
  Feb 8 Beneath (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
  Feb 9 Rock Music (symphonic wind band, prerecorded soundscape, rocks)
Athens, Georgia
  Feb 11 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
  Feb 12 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
  Feb 15 Intermezzo (solo piano)
Council Bluffs, Iowa
  Feb 16 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Lisle, Illinois
  Feb 16 Liquid Compass (symphonic wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Snoqualmie, Washington
  Feb 16 Liquid Compass (symphonic wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Bellevue, Washington
  Feb 16 Liquid Compass (symphonic wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Mercer Island, Washington
  Feb 17 Liquid Compass (symphonic wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Bellevue, Washington
  Feb 19 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
San Jose, California
  Feb 25 Liquid Compass (symphonic wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Ellensburg, Washington
  Feb 26 Deep (French horn, prerecorded soundscape)
Abilene, Texas
  Feb 26 Moment, and Homecoming (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Honolulu, Hawai'i
  Feb 28 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Omaha, Nebraska
  Mar 2 Liquid Compass (symphonic wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Ellensburg, Washington
  Mar 3 Liquid Compass (symphonic wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Ellensburg, Washington
  Mar 4 Liquid Compass (symphonic wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Ellensburg, Washington
  Mar 6 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Alleman, Iowa
  Mar 7 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Russellville, Arkansas
  Mar 8 Train of Thought (bass clarinet, bari sax, French horn, viola, cello, dbl bass, prerecorded soundscape)
Winchester, Virginia
  Mar 9 Liquid Compass (symphonic wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
San Antonio, Texas
  Mar 11 Luvina (solo piano)
Guanajuato, GTO, Mexico
  Mar 18 Luvina (solo piano)
Guanajuato, GTO, Mexico
  Mar 22 Luvina (solo piano)
Guanajuato, GTO, Mexico
  Mar 22 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  Mar 23 Arcana Planet (piano, prerecorded soundscape)(PREMIERE!)
Santa Cruz, California
  Mar 24 Luvina (solo piano)
Guanajuato, GTO, Mexico
  Mar 27 Luvina (solo piano)
Guanajuato, GTO, Mexico
  Apr 1 Elegiac (clarinet, cello, piano)
Friday Harbor, Washington
  Apr 1 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Vancouver, B.C., Canada
  Apr 1 Intermezzo (clarinet, piano)
Boone, North Carolina
  Apr 6 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
York, Maine
  Apr 9 Tight Squeeze and Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Corcelles-près-Payerne, Switzerland
  Apr 9 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Owatonna, Minnesota
  Apr 11 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Morgantown, West Virginia
  Apr 12 Kettle Brew (timpani, mixed percussion, prerecorded soundscape)
Madison, Wisconsin
  Apr 12 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Rochester, Michigan
  Apr 12 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Allendale, Michigan
  Apr 17 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Hong Kong, (SAR)
  Apr 18 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Storrs, Connecticut
  Apr 18 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Nashville, Tennessee
  Apr 24 Tight Squeeze and Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Bismarck, North Dakota
  Apr 25 Rock Music and Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  Apr 27 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Maryville, Tennessee
  May 4 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Ewing, New Jersey
  May 6 Immersion (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Kansas City, Missouri
  May 7 Immersion (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Kansas City, Missouri
  May 8 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Webb City, Missouri
  May 9 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Middleboro, Massachusetts
  May 11 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Southbridge, Massachusetts
  May 11 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Iron Station, North Carolina
  May 12 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Forestville, Maryland
  May 17 Liquid Compass (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Everett, Washington
  May 17 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Efland, North Carolina
  May 18 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Mont Belvieu, Texas
  May 18 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Penang, Malaysia
  May 22 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Hopkinton, Massachusetts
  May 25 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
New Berlin, Wisconsin
  May 25 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Chestermere, Alberta, Canada
  May 29 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  June 3 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Sydney, Australia
  June 7 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
  June 12 Desert Tide (soprano saxophone, prerecorded soundscape)
Los Angeles, California
  June 13 Water Voyage (clarinet duet, prerecorded soundscape)
Deland, Florida
  June 24 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Bellevue, Washington
  Aug 8 Moment (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Saratoga Springs, New York
  Sept 7 Intermezzo (bassoon, harp)
Friday Harbor, Washington
  Sept 24 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  Nov 8 Train of Thought (low wind sextet, prerecorded soundscape)
Walnut, California
  Nov 30 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Victoria, B.C. Canada


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. read



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-- the 2016 National Champions!

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


Watch a Skypehearsal!
Alex doing a Skypehearsal in her San Juan Island studio, February 2016.
to watch what it's like!

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 thereread


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, which is the winner of the award for Best Documentary from the 2016 Moondance International Film Festival in Boulder, CO. Alex speaks about the many inspirations for her music that are found in the natural world surrounding her, 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.
Email Alex!
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 and tidepools directly in front of my house. 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!


Zoom back up to the top!


island fox
Alex Shapiro, composer
You're here


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