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Alex Shapiro, composer email




an electro-aquatic piece
for symphonic wind band and prerecorded track.

Composed by Alex Shapiro.
2014; Duration 9:00. Published by Activist Music (ASCAP).

Commissioned by Carthage College in commemoration of the 140th anniversary of the Carthage College Band, Christo et Ecclesiae.

Grade 5.

score cover

Click here to stream: listen to LIQUID COMPASS

The full recording of the Central Washington University Wind Ensemble playing LIQUID COMPASS, conducted by Lewis Norfleet.



Click here to download: listen to LIQUID COMPASS



LIQUID COMPASS is available as a physical, bound set of score and parts plus audio download, or as a digital set of .pdf score and parts, plus audio download.
Full set: $195. Score only: $35.


Click here to order the PDF set from Activist Music ORDER LIQUID COMPASS

Click the icon to order the print set from Hal Leonard ORDER LIQUID COMPASS

Hal Leonard






LIQUID COMPASS instrumentation

water sloshing
One of the unusual ingredients to the journey: water dripping!


LIQUID COMPASS was generously commissioned by Carthage College, and its alumni, to commemorate the 140th anniversary of the Carthage Band, Christo et Ecclesiae. The participating donors are greatly appreciated:

Generous support was provided by:
Anonymous Friend of Music
Carthage College Department of Music
Ralph Lane

Additional support was provided by:
Nathaniel Card
Kurt and Vicki Chroust
Calvin and Nona Claus
John Dorch
John and Lori Gnabasik
Scott Jones and Jennifer Bodrie Jones
Lorilyn Krug
Ronald and Cynthia Larson
The Justice Law Firm P.C.
Genevieve Mundis
Mari Panzer
Lewis and Margaret Payne
Diane Presta
Michaela Ross
Brian Schoettler
Richard and Mary Sjoerdsma
Karin Stefans

Very special thanks to Dr. James Ripley, who set his musical compass with the faith that we might discover a shared true north!



James Ripley and Alex Shapiro in rehearsal
Conductor James Ripley and Alex Shapiro rehearsing LIQUID COMPASS with the Carthage College Band, May 2014.


The San Juan Islands



(email Alex for access code )

PERUSAL ONLY; not for performance or duplication.


9 x 12; 47 pages including cover and notes.

perusal score, 9 x 12


canoeing to Dinner Island





LIQUID COMPASS is a tone poem that takes the musicians and the audience on a watery journey spanning the mystical and the triumphant. Commemorating the 140th anniversary of Carthage College's wind band, the piece migrates to different places, but never loses its bearings in pursuit of a musical true north. The spiritual power of the sea is ever-present, in layers of unique sounds heard in the audio track, and duplicated by the musicians. The effect is a physical surround-sound of texture, as metal bowls capture slow, resonant drips of water, and flutists breathe other-worldly intonations. The piece, like the school that commissioned it, continues to push forward while observing that which has come before. Because one can't celebrate history, without reflecting on the waters over which time and experience have passed.


PROGRAM NOTES for download Program note

Program Notes

PROGRAM BIO for Alex Shapiro Photo and bio

Alex Shapiro bio and photos




Here's something VERY helpful: a complete guide to the software and hardware setup for your band room and performance venue.



pdf of tech guide



The schooner Adventuress in the San Juan Islands





LIQUID COMPASS is a large, dramatic work, and it gets even larger and more dramatic with the addition of pipe organ! At the invitation of conductor Jay Jones and with Alex Shapiro's guidance, the distinguished organist Jan Kraybill created an organ part to add to any performance, and premiered it (pictured above) in March 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, on the stunning Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant Organ, Opus 3875.


Jan Kraybill premieres the new version of Liquid Compass, Jay Jones, conductor.


Bemidji High School Band
Conductor Derek Wickum leading the Bemidji High Band in Minnesota during a 2015 performance of LIQUID COMPASS.


set your compass





The Lamont Wind Ensemble of the University of Denver, conducted by Sarah Wagner on Novmber 18, 2021:





Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, etc. are wonderful tools for affordably bringing Alex into your rehearsal without having to book a plane flight! She has a great time coaching players, and the difference between their musicianship at the beginning of the rehearsal and by the time it ends, is often remarkable.

Alex can tell the ensemble about how the piece they're playing was created and engage them in conversation, and even show them how her digital project studio works! It's also easy to arrange to have her say hello to the audience during a concert, via a custom video. Webhearsals connect musicians to the real person-- and the stories-- behind the notes on the music stands.

The best way to reach Alex Shapiro is through email,
by clicking here 
email Alex

You can also leave a voice message (or even a fax, if anyone faxes anymore) at:
(270) 916-0093.

To see some examples of webhearsals, and the view Alex loves to share from her desk, click here.

A December 2012 webhearsal 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.








Alex has written an extensive two-part article about electroacoustic band music and the uses of multimedia in the concert world. The essay, titled The e-Frontier: Music, Multimedia, Education, and Audiences in the Digital World echoes the presentations she has given at the 2013 Midwest Clinic, the 2014 TMEA convention, and countless other seminars, and appears in the June and September 2014 issues of the magazine of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, WASBE World. The pdf is offered here with the very kind permission of the organization.

Click here for the full .pdf file readThe e-Frontier


Alex and conductor James Ripley were guests on The Morning Show with Gregory Berg on Wisconsin's public radio station WGTD-FM on May 9, 2014. They covered a lot of ground, and some ocean, too, as they delved into the making of LIQUID COMPASS, commissioned by Ripley and Carthage College, and the world of composing. The broadcast starts at 2:25 in, and continues for 45 minutes. Click the icon to enjoy an animated conversation!


The Morning Show

  Stream the broadcast:



canoe ready to launch off driftwood




The VERY best way to reach Alex is through email, by clicking here Email Alex!

Email Alex!

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

Call Alex!


Alex Shapiro at the Hal Leonard Booth at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago, December 2014.


There's a lot more Shapiro band music to hear!

Head on over to THIS PAGE for an overview of Alex's wind band pieces. You can listen to each one, read all about it via a link, and if desired, request a free pdf perusal score. Have fun!




If the photos above transported you across the water, you can enjoy more such virtual journeys by clicking over to Alex's blog, Notes from the Kelp, here blog post



Alex at the helm

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