(Solo Piano).
Total duration ca. 23 minutes (201
Published by Activist Music (ASCAP).
Eight movement work: "Cradle These Roots," "Unfurl,"
"Heal From Within," "Reach To Light,"
"Branches and Vines," "Touch It,"
and "From Earth To Sky."
32 pages, 8.5" x 11".

Premiered March 20, 2016
in Santa Cruz, CA. by Michael Tierra.


Audio excerpts performed by Adam Marks, piano.


Also available as:

Arcana Planet

(Solo Piano with prerecorded electronic soundscape).
Total duration ca. 23 minutes (2017)

Published by Activist Music (ASCAP).
Eight movement work: "Cradle These Roots," "Unfurl,"
"Heal From Within," "Reach To Light,"
"Branches and Vines," "Touch It,"
and "From Earth To Sky."
37 pages, 8.5" x 11".

Premiered March 23, 2017
in Santa Cruz, CA. by Michael Tierra.



View the first page and hear music clips
of any of the eight movements:

1. Cradle These Roots
view score page
Cradle These Roots excerpt
2. Unfurl
view score page
Unfurl excerpt

3. Heal From Within

view score page
Heal From Within excerpt

4. Reach To Light

view score page
Reach To Light excerpt

5. Branches and Vines

view score page
Branches and Vines excerpt

6. Touch It

view score page
Touch It excerpt

7. Search

view score page
Search excerpt

8. From Earth To Sky

view score page
From Earth to Sky excerpt



Email Alex for the access code
to download a perusal score!

download perusal score


Purchase this score

Score available for $40.00 print, or $28.00 digital, from Activist Music.



Arcana explores the painfully fragile and often perilous relationship between humans and the secrets of earth's abundant plant life. The music often does so from the perspective of the plants themselves, with healing herbs as protagonists of a story that begins with a dire warning, and ends with the faith that wisdom and grace shall ultimately triumph.


In the pursuit of better health, a "healing crisis" can occur, during which someone may feel even worse after the start of a curative regime, before they feel better. Accordingly, the eight movements of this suite journey through some very dark and frightening places before arriving to the light. The toxins of conflict are a powerful subject, whether a struggle with one's inner demons, or a battle against outer threats to the wellbeing of our planet.


An everlasting mystery in both examples is the poignant attempt to achieve balance. Renowned herbalists Michael Tierra and his wife Lesley are among those who succeed in this challenge beautifully, as they work to improve the bodies, minds and spirits of others while honoring the natural world, always respectful of its power to harm as well as to heal. Representing their shared passion through the sphere of music has been a passage of joy and discovery for which I'll always be grateful. As above, so below; as within, so without. Creation is a form of magic. And the world of roots seeking good soil, and leaves turning upward to pure air, is one that we must protect, always.


Arcana Album Alex Shapiro has produced a significant album of her solo piano works, beautifully performed by New York pianist Adam Marks. The 2020 disc, ARCANA, has been released on Innova Recordings 041.  
Boyd review in American Record Guide 3-2021


A GLOWING REVIEW of the acoustic piano version of ARCANA which appears on the eponymous 2020 Innova Recordings release, in the March-April 2021 issue of The American Record Guide:

Shapiro: Arcana
Adam Marks, piano
Innova 041—80 minutes

"Shapiro shows her naturalist activism profoundly in Arcana, the album's namesake. Pianist Adam Marks gives this piece a thoughtful, powerful performance here. Arcana is eight movements long and speaks to the relationship that humans have with the earth and that the earth has with humans.

Shapiro writes that this piece is mostly told from the perspective of the plant life itself, with "healing herbs as protagonists of a story that begins with a dire warning, and ends with the faith that wisdom and grace shall ultimately triumph". Indeed, the dark and archaic sounds of the first movement, Cradle these Roots, gives way to second movement, Unfurl, that begins in light, continuous eight notes that unrelentingly cascade towards a fervent climax.


Movement six, Touch It, is just a minute and a half of catchy, spunky, absolutely delightful syncopation; the type of music you can't help but move along to. The final movement, From Earth to Sky, mirrors the first movement in its use of range and large chordal movement, yet in this case its music whispers of optimism and hope and trust.

—Stephanie Ann Boyd

Click HERE to read the entire review of the 2020 album tour-de-force, ARCANA, on Ms. Boyd's website.




Lesley Tierra, Alex Shapiro, Michael Tierra
Lesley and Michael Tierra flank Alex
in their Santa Cruz herbalist office, March 2016.




Click the photo below
to enjoy Adam Marks performing
the sixth movement of ARCANA,
titled TOUCH IT, at Yamaha Artist Services
in New York City, September 2020:


Adam Marks performing Touch It





Enjoy this video excerpt from the premiere of ARCANA
in Santa Cruz, CA, May 20, 2016:
Movement 2, titled, UNFURL,
performed by pianist Michael Tierra,
to whom the piece is dedicated.





Here is Michael Tierra premiering
the seventh movement of ARCANA,
titled, SEARCH.



1. Cradle These Roots    
Cradle These Roots, pg. 1
2. Unfurl    
Unfurl; page 1
3. Heal from Within    
Heal from Within, pg. 1
4. Reach to Light    
Reach to Light, pg. 1
5. Branches and Vines    
Branches and Vines, pg. 1
6. Touch It    
Touch It, pg. 1
7. Search    
Search, pg. 1
8. From Earth to Sky    
From Earth to Sky, pg. 1
top S

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