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The San Juan Islands

 

Alex Shapiro
Composer


(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
email

 

Looking for something? Search this site:


Quick links on this page

 
 
 
Loking northward in the San Juan Islands

 

Interact! Become one of Alex's online friends
and share your world with her.

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Programming Resources

Looking for additional composers
with diverse backgrounds?


Click HERE for helpful
PROGRAMMING RESOURCES!

 

 

     
 
Alex Shapiro, photo by Dan Shelley, 2015

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

Composing a lot of music (often for chamber ensembles and symphonic wind bands, sometimes paired with prerecorded audio soundscapes) composing

Speaking at events, residencies, and conferences around the world and virtually speaking

Participating on advocacy boards and committees participating

Writing articles and essays writing

and

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

 

Alex speaking at the ASCAP EXPO in Hollywood, 2016
 
 

"...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…"

Chamber Music
Click to read Kyle Gann's
insightful article

 
 
Alex's home in the San Juan Islands, from above
 

 

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, below:

 

 

 

     
San Juan Islands, from the ferry
 
 

 

QUICK!


Wanna hear what Alex sounds like?

       
 

MUSIC FOR LARGE ENSEMBLES:
21 pieces in 21 minutes!

Play this head-spinning tour
of some Shapiro works
in the background as you
peruse this website!
Click either icon to the right.

 

 

.WAV (better!)

 

.mp3

 
hear
hear
 
     
 

Click HERE to see the excerpts
and the names of the performers.
Each piece can be heard in its entirety
by clicking on a title.

 

   
 

 

Alex Shapiro in her studio April 2021

Curious to hear about Alex's process in composing and producing the large-scale electroacoustic pieces that have kept her very busy for many years?

CLICK THE PIC ABOVE to hear what she had to say about her approach to her work--including her new wind symphony, SUSPENDED, and about the past, present and future of electroacoustic writing, during an interview witih conductor and composer Michael Shapiro (no relation) in May 2021 for his webcast INTERPLAY.

 

 
     

 

Recent premieres
 
Second symphony

 

July 13, 2021 at the DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Alex's four-movement symphony for winds, percussion, and pre-recorded soundscape, SUSPENDED, was premiered. Conducted by Cynthia Johnston Turner and commissioned by Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma for their National Intercollegiate Band and Convention, it is Alex's most dramatic and emotional reflection to date: addressing not only the pandemic, but the many troubling, ongoing issues of the times. Dr. Johnston Turner gave a second performance of the symphony on March 23rd 2022, leading the Eastman Wind Ensemble at Kodak Hall in Rochester, NY.


Want to hear it? Click HERE to visit the dedicated page, or the icon below to download the recording of the premiere.

Listen to SUSPENDED:

download SUSPENDED

SUSPENDED

NIB National Convention

   
2022 residency and premiere

 

Alex was delighted to be the 2022 Commissioned Composer for the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Her work with the students culminated with UWRF's 56th Annual Commissioned Composer concert on April 21, 2022.


The event featured a wide swath of Alex's music in varying genres, on a concert including 12 of her works ranging from acoustic and electroacoustic chamber music, a piece for SATB choir, three of her jazz tunes, plus conductor Kristin Tjornehoj leading the UWRF wind ensemble in two electroacoustic works, and the premiere performance of the (all-acoustic!) UWRF commissioned piece, FREE.

FREE

UWRF Commissioned Composer

UWRF Commissioned Composer

   
2021 premiere

 

Much of the year 2020 can be epitomized by the concept of being deprived of breath. From the lung-destroying effects of COVID-19, to the murderous strangulations of police brutality. From the searing, choking walls of wildfire smoke, to the smothering treason of politicians attempting to asphyxiate democracy.


All of these topics traversed Alex's mind and heart as she composed BREATHE, a new, ten minute work for electroacoustic wind ensemble, commissioned by the Colorado Mesa University Wind Symphony, Calvin Hofer, conductor, with the generous support of Karen Combs and Lynn Wegener. The piece is Alex's second one utilizing a 12-tone row (the first being the very, VERY different TIGHT SQUEEZE). BREATHE would have premiered in Colorado in December 2020, but the pandemic delayed the concert to April 27, 2021.


What was not delayed was the sense of emotional release that Alex felt through the catharsis of composing this work, which begins as bleakly as the subject matter, but shifts mood as the final minutes appear. You can hear for yourself, in a powerful recording from the premiere.

BREATHE

Download the recording made with the live premiere performance:

hear

   
2020 premiere

 

Alex created an unusual, sound design-heavy electroacoustic concert opener for wind band, ASCENT. It was scheduled to be performed by the University of Hawai'i Wind Ensemble conducted by lead commissioner Jeffrey Boeckman at the CBDNA Western/Northwestern Division Conference in Tacoma, WA on March 19, 2020, but we all know what happened to this and every other conference across the world that month. The work was commissioned by 25 ensembles from the U.S. and Canada.


Also featured at the conference on March 20th would have been Alex's band work MOMENT, performed by the University of Alberta Symphonic Wind Ensemble conducted by Angela Schroeder, and a presentation on large ensemble multimedia works and social activism that Alex was looking forward to giving, with University of British Columbia Director of Bands Rob Taylor, and University of Puget Sound Director of Bands Gerard Morris.


Nonetheless, right before all the concert cancellations, the University of Hawai'i Wind Ensemble was able to perform ASCENT a couple of times for their local island audiences. You can hear the fantastic job they did for the Honolulu premiere by clicking on the links below.

Listen:

download ASCENT

ASCENT

 

University of Hawai'i

   
2019 choral premiere

 

Alex has composed an emotional electroacoustic work for SATB choir, titled O DEATH ROCK ME ASLEEP. The dramatic piece is set to a moving text penned by Anne Boleyn while imprisoned in the Tower of London as she awaited her beheading. Commissioned by Suzi Digby and The Golden Bridge, the new work premiered in Beverly Hills, CA. on September 7, 2019.


Click here to listen to, or watch,
the flawless premiere and its stunning ending.
More

Listen:

Listen

Golden Bridge

   
2019 and 2024 premieres

 

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, has supported the addition of three new Grade 2.5 EA works to the concert band world. Composers Daniel Montoya Jr. and Benjamin Taylor wrote their pieces-- TECHNO BLADE, and AXE TO GRIND, respectively-- for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and Alex has just delivered OFF THE EDGE, to its 35 commissioning ensembles.


Have a listen to Alex's pop-EDM approach to music for middle schoolers, as performed in March 2020 by the Center Grove Middle School Central Band in Greenwood, Indiana, conducted by Samuel Fritz. Play it loudly!

Listen:

download OFF THE EDGE


The first round of N-BEAM has been so successful that Jim Mobley and the three composers have agreed to launch N-BEAM 2.0! Three new pieces will roll out between 2020 and 2023. Interested in being a participant in this unique and wonderful adventure? Click here: read


Want to witness just how ridiculous three composers and a band director can be under the glare of conference floor lights at the Midwest Clinic? Click here: watch the madness

OFF THE EDGE

 

N-BEAM

   
2020 album

 

A [non-performing!] pianist herself, Alex has always loved composing for the instrument. Pianist Adam Marks recorded all of Alex's solo piano works for a gorgeous album on innova Recordings titled ARCANA. The collection was released on August 28, 2020, and if you visit the dedicated page for the [slightly unusual] project, you can read about it and enjoy preview excerpts, and videos!


The March-April 2021 issue of American Record Guide includes a glowing review of the entire album, penned by Stephanie Ann Boyd, who concludes with, "This disc is a triumph and I highly recommend spending time with the work of these two artists." Click HERE to read the entire review of ARCANA on Ms. Boyd's website.


Activist Music has published a collection of Alex Shapiro's solo piano works, available at a discounted rate as a set of .pdf downloads. Ranging from short offerings to those with multiple movements, these idiomatic pieces reveal an especially personal musical world. For complete information about the published collection, click HERE. More

Arcana CD

 

In Memoriam, Adam Marks, who passed away suddenly on May 9, 2021 at age 42.

In grief, with endless love and respect.

 

 

 

To experience Alex's deep catalog,
visit WORKS Works

A gull upstages a killer whale

 

 

Recent appearances
 
2022 conference

 

Three of Alex's most recent electroacoustic wind band works from 2020 and 2021 were heard at the CBDNA Western/Northwestern conference at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA in mid-March 2022.


Jeff Boeckman's presentation on his Symphony of the Hawaiian Birds project included the music video for Alex's concert opener ASCENT, David Vickerman's concert with the SJSU Wind Ensemble included the fourth movement of Alex's latest symphony SUSPENDED, titled VIRAL, and BREATHE was heard on Ed Powell's Pacific Lutheran University Wind Ensemble concert.


Alex also joined her colleagues Rob Taylor, and composers Viet Cuong, Joel Puckett and Rob Hutchinson on a 90 minute composer forum talk that dove head first into a great many topics relevant to the conductors in the audience!

CBDNA NWCBDNA composers Forum 2022

   
2022 clinician

 

Alex is proud to be a clinician for Conn-Selmer, and is available to speak to groups on myriad topics ranging from technology, DEI initiatives, copyright and business, activism, and the art of composition.


As part of the Winter 2022 Music Educator Master Class series, New Beginnings: Rehearse and Renew, Alex gave a webinar titled "Music and Activism: Raising Awareness One Note at a Time" in which she offered powerful examples of the power possessed by music educators and creators to raise musician and audience awareness of social and environmental topics.


In April 2022, Alex had the pleasure of being hosted by Dr. Paula Crider as they walked the audience through Alex's latest symphony, SUSPENDED during her interview for Conn-Selmer's Concert Artistry series.

Conn-Selmer series

 

Conn-Selmer series

   
2022 residency

 

Alex was the guest composer at the Total Band Director Workshop, held July 28 & 29 at Rush Creek Golf Course in Maple Grove, Minnesota.


Hosted by Eckroth Music and sponsored by Hal Leonard, J.W. Pepper, Yamaha, and Conn & Selmer, this annual event is an intensive workshop for band directors that provides new tools, materials, and fresh perspectives on the field.


Alex gave presentations on electroacoustic music, multimedia, and the power of sharing environmental and social messages through music and the impact performances can have on raising audience awareness. Additionally, there was an electroacoustic "petting zoo" reading session, during which directors played excerpts from a selection of Alex's EA band works and learned how to set up the tech and become comfortable with a click track!

Total Band Director Workshop

   
2021 clinician

 

Alex was a clinician on two panels at the 2021 Midwest Clinic in Chicago.


Embedding Social Emotional Learning in Instrumental Music Education explored creative approaches to bringing out the best in students, and Alex-- appearing via a multimedia video presentation- was joined by co-hosts Scott Edgar and Bob Morrison of Music for All, and composers Brian Balmages, Cait Nishimura, Richard Saucedo, Jim Stephenson, and Omar Thomas. You can watch the session HERE. watch


Alex is also pleased to be a clinician for Music for All, and has participated in several of their field-expanding webinars.


The Horizon Leans Forward… A Panel Discussion on the Issues of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in the Wind Band Field offered a frank conversation among Alex's composer and conductor co-authors Erik Leung, Courtney Snyder, Alfred Watkins, Rob Taylor, and Jodie Blackshaw.

The Midwest Clinic 2021The Midwest Clinic 2021

 

Music for All

   
2021 clinician

 

Alex gave one of her favorite online multimedia presentations at "Unmasking Music Education"-- the Nova Scotia Music Educators Association Conference. Titled, "Music with Messages: The Impact of Activism through Art," Alex uses selected multimedia electroacoustic band works from her catalog to exemplify the powerful connection that can be had between the arts, technology, and the world around us.

NSMEANSMEA

   
2020 clinician

 

In June 2020, CBDNA launched a YouTube series and kicked it off with Alex's presentation, Impact and Activism: Multimedia and the Wind Band World. She was joined by conductors Gerard Morris and Rob Taylor, and you can watch the inspiring webinar by clicking the icon on the right!

Watch Impact and Activism:

video

CBDNA

 

 

To learn about Alex's presentations
and for booking,
visit SPEAKNG Speaking

 






 

To peruse Alex's many clinics
and residencies,
visit ARCHIVED EVENTS Events

Incoming: Bald Eagle headed straight for Alex

 

 

Advocacy service appointments
 

MPA

March 2022

CIAM

November 2017

Alex is Member-Elect of the Board of Directors of the Music Publishers Association of the United States. Click here to delve into the remarkable collection of resources and information offered on the MPA website, and to learn more about the broad scope of advocacy the organization provides for the concert music and educational world.

Alex Shapiro became ASCAP's elected representative on the Executive Committee of The International Council Of Music Authors (CIAM)— the writers council of CISAC, a global network of authors' societies that represents 4 million creators in 121 countries. CIAM members convene several times a year in cities around the world to address the many ways to fiercely protect the rights of composers, authors and copyright holders so that they're properly remunerated for the commercial uses of their work.

     

Aaron Copland Fund for Music

November 2016

ASCAP

April 2014

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 ensembles seeking assistance in launching recording and performance projects, and handles permissions for uses of Copland's music. Click here to peruse the site!

Alex was elected by the membership to the Board of Directors of ASCAP as the sole 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.

     

New Music USA

July 2015

Columbia College

October 2015

New Music USA is a 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.

Alex is 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.

     

Composers Now

December 2015

The ASCAP Foundation

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 its upcoming events throughout the year!

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. In December 2021 Alex was elected as an officer and is one of the five members of the Foundation's Executive Committee. Click here to peruse the site!

 

 

To read more about
Alex's involvements,
visit BIOGRAPHY Bio

Sunset over the San Juan Islands

 

 

ASCAP-related advocacy
 

 

Alex became one of 12 writer and 12 publisher members of ASCAP's board of directors in 2014. Since most of the 900,000 members haven't met their representatives, ASCAP launched a series of "meet the board" videos in 2017. Here's Alex's:

 

 

 

Lobbying

 

Alex has often gone 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.

With ASCAP board President and Chairman
Paul Williams and Representative
Joaquin Castro (D-TX).

 

 
International workshops

 

Alex was in Tokyo, Japan in late May 2019 for meetings with her colleagues on the Executive Committee of The International Council Of Music Authors (CIAM)— the writers council of CISAC.


While there, she and several CIAM ExCo members gave a workshop hosted by Japan's collective management society JASRAC, for an auditorium of Japanese music creators, addressing local and international copyright issues.


In January 2019 during the CIAM ExCo meetings in Cabo Verde, Africa, Alex participated in career and copyright workshops with her CIAM ExCo writer colleagues.


In November 2018 in Mexico City, Alex was with her writer colleagues on the CIAM ExCo at the Annual CIAM Congress in Mexico City. She moderated a panel discussion with music creators from Australia, Europe, Canada, and South America, discussing not only the problems of far-reaching biases, but the solutions. Also in attendance were ASCAP President and Chairman Paull Williams, and ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews.


Alex again joined her international writer colleagues on the CIAM ExCo at the May 2018 CISAC General Assembly meeting in Warsaw, Poland, at which she spoke on a panel addressing gender inequity issues throughout the music industry. You can read about it by clicking here. read


CIAM addresses issues ranging from global copyright and royalty payment improvements, to transfer of value, fair trade music, blockchain potential, and much more, in an effort to advance the wellbeing of music creators around the world.

 

CIAM

 

 

CISAC

Alex Shapiro speaking at the CIAM ExCo in Mexico City

Speaking in Mexico City, 2018

Alex Shapiro (at right)-CISAC Warsaw

Speaking in Warsaw, 2018

Shapiro speaking in Tokyo at the CIAM Annual Assembly.

Speaking in Tokyo, 2017

 

Alex Shapiro on the CIAM ExCo career workshop panel in Cabo Verde, Africa

Giving a workshop
in Cabo Verde, 2019

Shapiro at Lisbon CIAM ExCo meeting

Working in Lisbon, 2017

Alex Shapiro on the CIAM ExCo copyright workshop panel in Tokyo, Japan.

Giving a workshop
in Tokyo, 2019

Speaking

 

The ASCAP EXPO brings artists from every genre together in Hollywood for an inspiring conference of workshops, panels, performances and networking. In 2017 Alex spoke on a panel titled "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.


Alex has been a speaker at nearly all of the ASCAP EXPOS-- now called The ASCAP Experience-- since the annual conference was launched in 2005.

ASCAP EXPOASCAP EXPO 2017

 



ASCAP EXPO 2016

Presenting

 

The annual ASCAP Foundation Awards event in New York City honors emerging and distinguished music creators from a broad array of genres. For information, click here more info

 

Lauridsen and Shapiro

Presenting composer Morten Lauridsen with the
2016 ASCAP Foundation Life in Music Award in NYC.

Alex Shapiro presents the ASCAP Foundation Masters Award to Melinda Wagner

Presenting composer Melinda Wagner
with the 2019 ASCAP Foundation
Masters Award in NYC.

 

 

To learn more about Alex's advocacy work,
visit BIOGRAPHY Bio

Rainbow over the San Juan Islands

 

 

Videos & Podcasts
 

The Band Room Podcast

March 2021: talking about wind band!

The Band Room Podcast

March 2021: talking about python breeding!

Alex enjoyed a VERY spirited conversation with The Band Room Podcast's cohosts conductor Dylan Maddix and composer Cait Nishimura about why she loves the band community, how her environment influences her work, and how she overcomes creative blocks and anxiety, as well as her thoughts about adaptable music and the future of music publishing.

Additionally, the Band Room Podcast features a bonus episode for its listeners-- and in the case of Alex's, you'll be rewarded with what is undoubtedly one of the most unusual, if truly bizarre, composer hobby stories— information that until now, Alex had never shared in a public format! If you could use a laugh, click HERE to listen! listen

     

Wind Conductor, with Aaron Noe

May 2020: talking about technology!

Relevant Tones, with Seth Boustead

March 2021: talking about her music!

One of Alex's favorite 2020 conversations was with conductor Aaron Noe for his webcast Wind Conductor. They discussed a remarkably broad range of topics, including taking a deep dive into upcoming technogies destined to have a profound effect on musicians. Click the icon at right to watch. watch

If you have a longing for lounge-chill funk timpani or want to understand the finer theory of whale-tempered tuning, now's your chance! Plus a legally indemnifying disclaimer: no flutists were harmed in the making of the wild effects you'll hear in one of the six eclectic works from Alex's diverse catalog that you'll hear on this revealing episode of Relevant Tones. Should anyone want a quick tour of the chaos that swirls in her head, Seth Boustead has generously provided the portal!

     

Band Talk with Charlie Menghini

March 2020: talking about diversity!

Everything Band

March 2018: talking about musical rodents!

Beloved band director Charlie Menghini launched a new podcast series of conversations with composers, conductors, and educators, Band Talk with Charlie Menghini and Friends, and Alex was the first of his guests for Episode 2. Click the icon at right to have a listen. listen

Alex really enjoyed talking with Mark J. Connor as a guest on his popular podcast, Everything Band. Covering everything from career to clarinet-playing gerbils (!), it was a far-ranging chat! Click the icon at right to have a listen. listen

 

 

Plus, here are two favorite conversations
about the business of music
 

January 2016

Part 1: hear Part 1

Part 2: hear Part 2

Alex Shapiro and Garrett HopeThe Portfolio Composer


Music Publishing Podcast
April 2016
April: hear
May 2017
May: hear

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. Their wide-ranging conversation over bourbon in Alex's San Juan Island, WA living room, is posted in two March 2016 parts, and you can hear it above.

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.

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. Click to hear Alex's Plan A,B,C,D and beyond!

 

 

And, get a sense of Alex in her natural habitat
 

 

Alex appears in three of director Michael Stillwater's documentary films: Shining Night, Beyond the Fear of Singing, and In Search of the Great Song. Click below to listen to a short excerpt from the latter, filmed at Alex's home on San Juan Island, WA. and scored with her piece BELOW. Alex shares her thoughts about how the sea inspires her muses.

 

 

 

To hear Alex's ideas and wit
in MANY more interviews, visit VIDEOS Videos

Clouds over the San Juan Islands

 

Speaking as an artist: 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:

 

 

   

 

 

Recordings of Alex's music
 
Shapiro solo piano music collection

Arcana CD

The 2020 Innova Recordings release of Alex's album, ARCANA, is a collection of her complete solo piano music until 2020, beautifully recorded by pianist Adam Marks. To read about the project and hear excerpts, click here more  

Purchase a copy, or download:

buy
iTunes link
     
Shapiro chamber music collection

Notes from the Kelp CD

The 2007 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 disc or a download:

buy
iTunes link

 

Discography:

Click on any album for more information.

 

 

 

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

Music for Hammers & Sticks:
At the Abyss

Above and Beyond
Saxtronic Soundscape
Solo Rumores
An Robert Schumann
Above and Beyond:
Bioplasm

Saxtronic Soundscape:
Desert Tide

Solo Rumores:
Luvina

An Robert Schumann:
Slowly, searching


La Discordantia
2017 NAfME Northwest
Jenni Scott
Trumpet Colors
La Discordantia:
Slip


2017 NAfME Northwest:
Liquid Compass


Jenni Scott:
Shiny Kiss


Trio Chromos:
Elegy


Below
The Dreams of Birds
Garrison Festival
60 x 60
Below: Music for Low Flutes:
Below


The Dreams of Birds:
Intermezzo


Garrison Piano Competition:
Scherzo

60 x 60 2005:
Unhinged


Notes from the Kelp
Midwest Clinic 2011
Atmospheres
Midwest Clinic 2013
Alex Shapiro:
Notes from the Kelp


Midwest Clinic:
Paper Cut


Atmospheres:
Water Crossing


Midwest Clinic:
Tight Squeeze


Californian Concert
Delicate Balance
Excelsior
250 Piano Pieces for Beethoven, Vol. 1
Californian Concert:
For My Father

Delicate Balance:
Water Crossing

Excelsior:
Perpetual Spark


250 Piano Pieces for Beethoven:
Chord History


Double or Nothing
Beck and Call
Everything Beautiful
Arcana
Double or Nothing:
Deep

Beck and Call:
Of Breath & Touch
Deep
Everything Beautiful:
Liquid Compass
Tight Squeeze
Alex Shapiro/Adam Marks:
Arcana

 
Below CD Single
Suspended CD
 
 
Below
Below


2021 National
Intercollegiate Band

Suspended


 
 

 

 

To listen to these albums,
visit RECORDINGS
Recordings






 

 

To buy these albums,
visit PURCHASE Albums

 

Atoll in the San Juan Islands

 

 

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
 

 

hear
film, TV and games
 
hear
 
hear
symphonic wind bands

 

hear

 

hear
jazz groups
 
hear
 
hear
electronics

 

hear

 

hear
indie pop songs
  hear   hear
choir

 

hear

 

hear
and even country pop.
  hear

 

hear
     

MUSIC FOR LARGE ENSEMBLES:
21 pieces in 21 minutes!

Play this head-spinning tour
of Shapiro works
in the background as
you peruse this website!
Click either icon to the right.

Any piece can be heard
in its entirety
by clicking on a title below
and visiting the linked page,
which includes the information
for the conductor and ensemble h
eard in the recording.

Here's what's on the demo:

 

   

.WAV (better!)

.mp3

hear
hear
   
 
GO TO
TITLE
DIFFICULTY LEVEL
 
 
00:26
Grade 4
 
 
01:09
Grade 4+
 
 
02:32
Grade 4
 
 
03:28
Grade 4
 
 
04:43
Grade 5
 
 
05:42
Grade 4+
 
 
06:40
Grade 3
 
 
07:30
Grade 4+
 
 
08:37
Grade 2.5
 
 
09:30
Grade 4+
 
 
10:54
Grade 5
 
 
11:45
Grade 4
 
 
12:52
Grade 5
 
 
13:35
Grade 5
 
 
15:07
Grade 2
 
 
15:47
Grade 4+
 
 
16:42
Grade 3 and beyond
 
 
17:26
Grade 0.5 and beyond
 
 
18:04
Grade 4+
 
 
19:06
Grade 5
 
 
20:24
Grade 5
 
         

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, for musicians ranging from virtuoso professionals to absolute beginners.

 

EASIER

MODERATE

ADVANCED

 

COUNT TO TEN

(wind band, optional audio track)
2021; 1:07; Grade 0.5 and above)

TIGHT SQUEEZE

(wind band, audio track;
2013; 3:15; Grade 4)

SUSPENDED

(wind band, audio track;
2021; 28:00; Grade 5 and above)

ROCK MUSIC

(wind band, rocks, audio track;
2016; 4:15; Grade 2.5 and above)

LIGHTS OUT

(wind band, audio track;
2015; 4:30; Grade 4)

AIRBORNE
(from Suspended)

(wind band;
2021; 5:15; Grade 5 and above)

OFF THE EDGE

(wind band, audio track;
2019; 3:20; Grade 2.5 and above)

MOMENT

(wind band, audio track;
2016; 5:45; Grade 4)

DISTANCED
(from Suspended)

(wind band, audio track;
2021; 9:00; Grade 4-5 and above)

PAPER CUT

(wind band, printer paper, audio track;
2010; 5:00; Grade 3 and above)

TRAINS OF THOUGHT

(wind band and audio track;
2017; 7:15; Grade 4)

MASKED
(from Suspended)

(wind band, audio track;
2021; 5:00; Grade 5 and above)

KITCHEN SYNC

(wind band, optional audio track)
2021; 1:20; Grade 3 and above)

DEPTH
(from Immersion)

(wind band and audio track;
2010; 7:43; Grade 4)

VIRAL
(from Suspended)

(wind band, audio track;
2021; 6:00; Grade 5 and above)

POP MUSIC

(wind band, audio track;
optional balloons;
2022; 4:17; Grade 3-4 and above)

BREATHE

(wind band, audio track;
2020; 10:00; Grade 4 and above)

LIQUID COMPASS

(wind band, audio track;
2014; 9:00; Grade 5)

PASSAGES

(wind band and audio track;
2020; 3:00; Grade 2-4)

ASCENT

(wind band;
2020; 2:30; Grade 4-5)

FREE

(wind band)
2022; 8:15; Grade 5)

 

BENEATH
(from Immersion)

(wind band, audio track;
2010; 10:10; Grade 4-5)

SURFACE
(from Immersion)

(wind band, audio track;
2010; 3:55; Grade 5)

 

HOMECOMING

(wind band;
2008; 7:30; Grade 4-5)

IMMERSION

(wind band and audio track;
2010; 23:00; Grade 5)

 

 

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.

 
Sunset over the San Juan Islands

 

 

Orchestra, chamber music, and choir, too
 

BENEATH

Electroacoustic orchestra

BENEATH

PERPETUAL SPARK

Acoustic chamber sextet

PERPETUAL SPARK

Stream

hear

Stream earlier in the piece

hear
Download

hear

Stream later in the piece

hear
Venture to the depths of the sea with the plaintive song of a Humpback whale as your guide, and listen to the Fox Valley Orchestra in Aurora, Illinois, conducted by Stephen Squires.

 

This sextet for flute/piccolo, violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano was premiered by Fifth House Ensemble,which recorded the work fall 2013 for their 2014 CD on Cedille Records, Excelsior, produced by Judith Sherman. 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" enjoys wide airplay across the U.S.

 

 

KETTLE BREW

This unusual piece for mixed percussion and prerecorded soundscape was premiered by its co-composer David Jarvis at Washington State University, during Alex's visit as the 2013 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

 

 

 

REMEMBRANCE

Acoustic string orchestra

REMEMBRANCE

O DEATH ROCK ME ASLEEP

Electroacoustic SATB choir

O DEATH

Stream

hear

Stream

hear

Download

hear

Download

hear

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.

 

Alex's dramatic work set to prose written by Anne Boleyn in the Tower of London as she awaited her beheading. This recording from the premiere is of The Golden Bridge at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills on September 7, 2019, conducted by Suzi Digby.

 

 

SURFACE

Here's a video Alex shot and scored with the second movement of her first symphony IMMERSION-- about the ocean and its fragile creatures. Although still related to being underwater, it has nothing to do with sea life! Performance by the University of Minnesota Symphonic Band, conducted by Jerry Luckhardt at Ted Mann Concert Hall in Minneapolis, MN, February 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

To experience the entire catalog,
visit WORKS Works


 

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


 

To order scores,
visit PURCHASE Purchase

 


Sunset over the San Juan Islands

 

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-- has played during every football game since 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!

 

Here's what it looked and sounded like on January 9, 2017, as the Clemson University Tiger Band entered the field at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida for the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship:

   

 

     

 

Where Alex's music can be heard live
 

 

Alex Shapiro is very, very fortunate to have her works performed in hundreds of venues every year. A list of selected concerts for which she has information can be found by visting THIS PAGE.

If you have programmed a Shapiro work or have an upcoming concert date, please email the information— as well as a program, if possible— to Alex by clicking HERE. You'll be added to the Concerts page, and a smile will be added to Alex's face! Thanks!

 

 

 

 

To see 2021-2022 performances,
visit CONCERTS Bio

Drama over the cove-and book cover

 

 

Writings
 
Chapters

 

Alex is one of six co-authors of the new book, The Horizon Leans Forward...Stories of Courage, Strength, and Triumph of Underrepresented Communities in the Wind Band Field, released by GIA Publications December 2020.


Edited by conductor Erik Kar Jun Leung (Oregon State University), the book includes Ms. Shapiro's chapter, Reaching Out and Bringing Women In, along with those from composer Jodie Blackshaw and conductors Alfred L. Watkins, Robert Taylor (University of British Columbia), Courtney Snyder (University of Michigan), and Erik Leung, each of whom address perspectives of women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA2S+ composers and conductors of the past and present.


Additionally, the publication includes a notable annotated bibliography of works by underrepresented composers. The six co-authors have done several compelling Zoominars about the book contents, and those links can be found in the diversity and includion section, HERE: watch videos


To read more about the book and to order a hard copy, click HERE: Order book from GIA


To order the digital copy, click HERE: Order digital book from Amazon

GIA Publications

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.

Musicianship

Articles

 

Alex's brain is about 8,000 words lighter after writing 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.

read

WASBE World

Essays

 

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.
A few favorites:


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

NewMusicBox

Blogs

 

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

And without question, the very best resource for Alex's musings can be found in the decade-worth of pixels and photographs of her blog, Notes from the Kelp. blog

ArtsJournal
Sandow

blog link

 

 

To read more of Alex's writing,
visit ESSAYS Essays

San Juan Island lavender field

 

 

Visual media
 
Art films

 

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
 
Documentary appearances

 

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.


In Michael Stillwater's third film, Beyond the Fear of Singing, Alex talks about non-musicians freely embracing the freedom of expression.


You can enjoy previews of all three beautiful documentaries here. films

Shining Night

In Search of the Great Song

Beyond the Fear of Singing

Photography

 

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

incoming

 

 

To see more,
visit EVENT ARCHIVE Archive

Shelf clouds over the San Juan Islands

 

 

Buzz
 
Recent honor

 

Concurrent with the premiere of her second symphony, SUSPENDED, commissioned by Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma for their July 2021 National Intercollegiate Band, Alex was made an Honorary Brother of both fraternities, and awarded Tau Beta Sigma's "Outstanding Service to Music Award".

TBS award

Recent press

 

Sheet Music Plus features Alex and her career in a wide-ranging piece for its September 2019 Take Note blog. Read about the connection between music, activism, multimedia, and yes, even Beethoven, by clicking here. read

 

Minnesota Public Radio's Your Classical division created a Top Ten list of wind band composers, to expand the public's knowledge of the genre. Alex [randomly!] came in at #2 after Sousa. You can peruse the list by clicking here. read

Sheet Music PlusTake Note

 

MPR Your Classical

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 and 2020 segments feature 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 the amusing description by clicking here and then clicking the "play" arrow at the top of the page.

Composers Datebook-Shapiro

 

 

To read more,
visit BIOGRAPHY Bio

Sunrise over the San Juan Islands

 

 

Pandemic Projects
 
Creative curriculum

 

COVID-19 has brought many challenges to university music programs, but in the face of limitations there are also positive opportunities. Rather than try to make something as precious as live ensemble performance exist in a format not yet designed for it, Alex gave some thought to what an online connection for students in band and orchestra can uniquely provide.


At the invitation of the University of Washington's Director of Bands Timothy Salzman, Alex came up with a syllabus for the students that reflects our current reality. Click to read the article about the successful project, Putting the E- in E-nsemble.


Between March and December 2020, Alex oversaw the curriculum with more than 30 universities and high schools, and the free syllabus continues to be used by educators at all levels, to bring the project to even more music students who discover an inner creativity they hadn't realized they possess.


If you would like to see the syllabus, just email Alex and she'll be happy to get it to you. She's available as a consultant, or to help you customize the course for your students and to Zoom in to work with them!

e-Ensemble with UW

e-Ensemble with UW

   
Cells that morph

 

Joining 11 of her peers, Alex co-founded the Creative Repertoire Initiative to encourage composers to create adaptable works for ensembles with varying personnel and rehearsal circumstances.


For this world in constant flux, Alex's 2020 electroacoustic work, PASSAGES, offers a calming, centering, meditative, and encouraging outlook for any combination of instruments. Each cellular phrase sounds beautiful whether stacked or exposed, and played with any of the chords in the accompaniment track. It's never quite the same piece twice, because musicians make random choices from a selection of melodies and rhythms of varying difficulty. The music is especially well suited for musicians recording themselves during distance learning sessions, and even for soloists wishing to improvise!


Stream an excerpt
from the accompaniment track:


Stream ASCENT


Listen to the entire
live recording (3:00):


listen

PASSAGES cover

 

Creative Repertoire Initiative

   
Flex for newbies

 

During the same period during which Alex composed her oh-so-very sophisticated second symphony SUSPENDED, she also composed her first piece for beginning music students, a 3-part plus percussion flex work titled COUNT TO TEN. Why? Because she believes that all living composers should be writing primers for the music of their time, by participating in the educational process and providing fresh, creative repertoire that can further inspire the students to keep playing!


Toddlers can count to ten, so surely, middle schoolers can count to nine! And once a young student can count to nine, meters in 5 and 7 won't be daunting. For a closer look at this unusual piece with an optional and REALLY GROOVY accompaniment track, click HERE: Count to Ten

Listen:

download 120bpm version

Count to Ten cover

   
Everything but the

 

KITCHEN SYNC was composed in 2021 as a very flexible stand-alone miniature that is also one fifth of a collective offering of similarly micro-length pieces titled SUITE TREATS. Composers & Schools Executive Director Lisa Oman and conductor and Creative Repertoire Initiative co-founder Robert Ambrose invited five founding members of CRI to add their voices to a compilation of brief, medium difficulty ensemble works designed to be highly adaptable.


Alex, along with composers Brian Balmages (Focal Point), Jennifer Jolley (Neoncore), Pete Meechan (Lullaby), and Frank Ticheli (Moving On), were each paired with high school wind band directors in different parts of the U.S., and engaged with the students online to come up with a fresh take on what can be accomplished musically-- in only about a minute.

Kitchen Sync cover

 

CRI-Suite Treats team

 

 

To learn about these works
and others,
visit WORKS Works


San Juan Islands wildflowers

 

 

Webhearsals
 

More than a decade before the COVID-19 pandemic made online resources a necessity, Alex was among the earliest composers to use the web to connect with ensembles all over the world.


Alex really enjoys interacting in person with students and faculty during rehearsals and guest artist residencies in which she spends a few days at a university and gives master classes, private composition lessons, lectures on the changing paradigm of the music business, and attends rehearsals and performances of her music. But when budgets and schedules and, oh, y'know, global pandemics don't allow for travel, Zoom, Skype, Webex, Google Meet or anything similar have become the next best thing.

 

 

webhearsal

Alex on San Juan Island,
and students across the country
rehearsing PAPER CUT.

 

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, web video 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.

 

webhearsal

Alex in her studio on San Juan Island,
and students rehearsing PAPER CUT.

webhearsal

A webhearsal with Alex in her studio on San Juan Island,
and students in Malaysia after a rehearsal of LIGHTS OUT.

 

 

webhearsal

Alex looking on and reading the score, upper right,
as students at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater rehearse
TRAINS OF THOUGHT with conductor Glenn Hayes.

 

 

Watch a webhearsal!


Alex doing a webhearsal in her San Juan Island studio.

CLICK to watch what it's like!


 

 

For more about online coaching,
visit WEBHEARSALS Webhearsals


view from the puddle jumper

 

 

Keeping up with Alex
 
 
Facebook
YouTube
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email Alex!
Get online with Alex!
 

 

Internet networking sites have brought many wonderful collaborations and commissions to Alex's virtual doorstep. Enjoy watching one of her online friends, artist Simon Kenevan, make a pastel study for his painting 'Afternoon Sun,' to her Phos Hilaron:

 


     

Alex Kayaking

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!

Alex Kayaking
Alex kayaking off the coast of Malibu.

musical sea creature

 

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.

 


 

 

 

Commissioning, Licensing, Arrangements,
& Booking
 
 

Getting in touch:

The VERY best way to reach Alex is through email, by clicking herecontact


You can also leave a voice message or a fax (huh?) at: (270) 916-0093, and she'll return your call.

 

 

 

 
 

Commissioning:

Ms. Shapiro is equally comfortable creating new works for an individual ensemble, or for a large consortium of participants. For commission inquiries, please contact Alex. Email Alex

 

 

 

 
 

Licensing:

ALL licensing inquiries, including recording, broadcast, synchronization to video or dance, marching band or other arrangements, etc., are handled DIRECTLY by Ms. Shapiro and Activist Music LLC. Please avoid the unnecessary expense of third party businesses, and send an email the details of your request by clicking here. Licensing

 

 

 

 
 

Arrangements:

Here's something VERY helpful: a thorough explanation for creating arrangements, prepared by the Music Publishers Association, of which Alex is a board member-elect. The documents also addresses related copyright issues that can sometimes seem elusive. Click to download!

 

Band Arrangement 411

 

 

 

 
 

Webhearsals:

Alex loves to interact with ensembles, coach rehearsals, discuss myriad topics, and give a detailed tour of her state-of-the-art project studio on San Juan Island. Click here for more information, to see a video, and to book a session. Webhearsals

 

 

 
 

Residencies:

When budgets allow for the expense of an in-person residency, Alex is a positive presence on campus, whether in rehearsals of her music, or giving lectures on the many facets of a happy career. Alex also enjoys doing e-residences, which are an excellent option that saves money fossil fuels! To inquire, please email Alex. Email Alex

 

 

 
     
 
An island fox

 

 

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.

 

whoosh
splash
roll
boom
crash

 

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.

 

Alex sailing a Farr 65

 

Among the many inspirations 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, I lived 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.


Since 2007, it's been the serenity of Washington State's remote San Juan Island (TWICE the size of the island on which I grew up!) 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, and two personal Facebook pages that reflect my life here: San Juan Island's Golden Point, and the more recent San Juan Island's Mineral Point.

 

whoosh
splash
roll
boom
crash
 

 

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, and pretty much every genre of pop and commercial music. With luck, the notes come out sounding something like... Shapiro. You can listen to many of my pieces on the pages of this website and draw your own opinion.

 

Alex Shapiro, photo by Paul Chepikian

 

 

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 social media and 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. The internet is every bit as significant to human history as the invention of the printing press, as I've written about in essays like this one. essay

 

 
whoosh
splash
roll
boom
crash
 

 

Traditionally, a composer's catalog of pieces is viewed by instrumentation, and you'll find such a listing on the 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 page to offer a quick sampling of a variety of styles. It's almost as interactive as I am.

 

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, click 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!


 

Zip back up to the top of this looooong page!

_____________________


 
 
island fox
Alex Shapiro, composer

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