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The San Juan Islands

(and... speaker. essayist. activist. naturalist photo-blogger. fun person.)
"...Alex Shapiro is a name people should know, she's got it all. She is, in a word, a serious and significant composer of beautiful music.
Hats off!"

—Music & Vision Magazine


"[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

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.



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


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

Relax to an excerpt:


Atmospheres CD

The latest premiere


LIGHTS OUT, Alex's new opto-electroacoustic symphonic band work, had the first of its 19 regional premieres on April 29, 2015, performed by the University of Memphis Symphonic Band and conducted by Armand Hall. Click here to order from Hal Leonard and light up your band room! more info

Enjoy the live recording! It's a piece that's a far cry from Alex's chamber concert works:


LIGHTS OUT score cover

The latest piece


Just finished: Alex's unusual electroacoustic sextet for low winds, TRAIN OF THOUGHT, was commissioned by Paul Kile for the Cochran Chamber Commissioning Project, and premieres in 2016. Click the title to listen to the demo recording and read the story behind the music. It gives new meaning to the term, "audio track"!

TRAIN OF THOUGHT score cover

Cochran Chamber Winds

The latest interview


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

Alex Shapiro and Garrett Hope
Composer on Fire

The latest workshop


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

ASCAP workshop

Trevacca Nazarene University

The latest appearances


May 13, 2015, in Washington, D.C.: Each spring, members of the Board of Directors of ASCAP and a few other copyright advocates visit Senators, members of Congress, and their aides, to keep the message of fair compensation for music creators front and center. This year, the Songwriter Equity Act was at the core of ASCAP's discussions on Capitol Hill. Alex spoke with five Representatives, including Joaquin Castro (D-TX), pictured here with Alex and ASCAP board President and Chairman Paul Williams.

ASCAP Lobbying in Washington, D.C.


June 15, 2015, in New York City: Alex had the honor of inducting pianist/composer Jelly Roll Morton into the ASCAP Jazz Wall of Fame at this annual event celebrating reknowned as well as up-and-coming artists. New Orleans pianist Davell Crawford accepted the award on behalf of Morton.

Composer/pianist Davell Crawford with Alex at the ASCAP Jazz Wall of Fame in NYC, June 15, 2015.


May 21, 2015, in New York City: The 2015 ASCAP Concert Music Awards were held at Merkin Hall, and Alex was among the presenters honoring winners of the Morton Gould Young Composer Award, the American Contemporary Music Ensemble, and the winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in music, Julia Wolfe. Flanking Alex are composers Julia Wolfe and Dan Welcher.

Composers Julia Wolfe and Dan Welcher flanking Alex at the ASCAP Concert Awards in NYC, May 21, 2015.


April 26, 2015, in Los Angeles: Alex was back in the saddle at the Los Angeles Composer Salon series that she co-founded in 2000 with composer Kubilay Uner. She co-moderated the 56th event at Tuttomedia Studios in Venice, CA. with Giovanna Imbesi, and interviewed colleague Laura Karpman about her recent work.

L.A. Composer Salon

April 30-May 2, 2015, in Hollywood: The 10th annual ASCAP EXPO brought artists from every genre together for an inspiring conference of workshops, panels, performances and networking at the Loews Hollywood Hotel.


The latest documentary appearance


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

In Search of the Great Song

The latest article


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.

CLICK HERE to read the full pdf of the article, offered with the kind permission of WASBE.


The latest publications and recordings


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

250 Pieces for Beethoven


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

The latest commissions


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

Michael Tierra

Alex and the organization Composers & Schools in Concert had such a great time launching Alex's 2013 electroacoustic wind band piece, TIGHT SQUEEZE, that they partnered once again on a similar piece with an emphasis on visual multimedia, titled LIGHTS OUT. A consortium of 19 schools around the U.S. interacted with Alex via Skype throughout the autumn of 2014, as Alex solicited creative visual ideas from the musicians for their Spring 2015 premieres, as well as for inclusion in the front matter of the published score. Wanna get a sense of what they all came up with? Click HERE! Lights Out

Now, Alex is currently composing a third CSIC-led electroacoustic wind band piece for an 18-member consortium, and the new work, titled MOMENT, premieres Spring 2016 around the U.S.

If you're interested in participating in future consortia, please contact Alex's agent Mark Walker:
; 318-381-3560.


Lights Out poster

Alex got into the team spirit with the Clemson University Tiger Band! She was commissioned by band director Mark Spede to create the music score for the video that plays on the "jumbotron" screen in Clemson's 85,000 seat Memorial Stadium during every football game, as the 290 musicians of the Tiger Marching Band pour out on to the field to perform. Click here to see the resulting video. Go Tigers!

Clemson University Memorial Stadium

Alex was asked by conductor Joseph Ohrt to compose a short movement for SSAA choir and piano that West Choir will premiere at the 2016 Eastern Division ACDA conference in Boston on March 10. The piece, BECAUSE I AM, will be part of a suite of several such others that will comprise the collective work, titled BECAUSE I AM A WOMAN.

Central Bucks

ACDA Eastern

As far as Alex is concerned, music for young musicians can be as artfully sophisticated as repertoire for professionals! Think about it: plenty of contemporary works in the repertoire intentionally use a limited number of pitches. She looks forward to making this point through a new electroacoustic wind band piece titled, ROCK MUSIC, for Patrick Marsh Middle School Band conducted by Chris Gleason, premiering Spring 2016. Geology studies may never be the same.

Patrick Marsh Middle School

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 concerts in a new version titled, SLIPPERY.

Bas Duo

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 season.

Edina High School

The 2015 residencies


January 22, 2015: Alex was a guest lecturer at The University of Hawai'i at Manoa, speaking to the composition department, and giving a masterclass.

March 10-13, 2015: Alex was the Composer-in-Residence at Fort Hays State University in Kansas, working with the wind ensembles, soloists, and conductors Jeff Jordan and Lane Weaver as they prepared several of her works for their March 12 concert.

University of Hawai'i

Fort Hays State University

The newest appointments


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


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


To see Alex's recent travels, visit Event Archive Archive
San Juan Islands and Mt. Baker from puddle jumper


Alex (looking a bit fuzzy) responds to the question, "What kind of composer are you?" in this 50-second excerpt from an interview she gave to Carey Nadeau from the American Composers Forum in June 2010:


Orca whale and gull


One of the 2014 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


Three of the 2013 premieres:

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

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


February 13, 2013: If Arnold Schoenberg, Henry Mancini, and Charlie Parker ever walked into a techno dance club in Havana, TIGHT SQUEEZE is what it might have sounded like. Alex's 2013 electroacoustic wind band piece was premiered at Brevard College with conductor Miller Asbill, and has since been featured at the 2013 Midwest Clinic, and performed by bands across the U.S. Click here to read about the piece, and to see more weird photos of a gull attempting to swallow his lunch. read

Tight Squeeze, indeed!

Tight Squeeze row
The 12-tone theme.

Enjoy the VanderCook College of Music Symphonic Band's performance at the 2013 Midwest Clinic, conducted by Charlie Menghini (full piece; 3:15):


gull toes


One of the 2012 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.

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:
Two Bald Eagles


Listen to excerpts from other 2011 Shapiro premieres:

Read about

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

  Listen to excerpts  
Unabashedly More
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


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, please click here Piano works


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



Burnt orange sunrise over the Salish sea


And now for something completely different:
Clemson University Memorial Stadium

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

Archipelago view


Meet Alex:

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

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

Chamber Music
Click to read Kyle Gann's
insightful article

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

Mt. Baker


Other media:
Guest blog


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


Video podcast 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




On July 9, 2012, Swedish Radio began streaming an interview hour that Alex shared with composer and conductor Victoria Bond, hosted by Birgitta Tollan. The interviews took place in New York City, and feature a balance of audio excerpts and conversation. Click at right, to enjoy Alex's portion of the show (and to practice your Swedish!).


Swedish Radio

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

Music library


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 film


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



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.

GIA Publications


Two of Alex's electroacoustic wind band pieces for high school musicians, TIGHT SQUEEZE, and PAPER CUT, are featured in the 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

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, speaking about the many inspirations for her music as BELOW, in which she features a Humpback whale song, plays as the underscore.

Shining Night

In Search of the Great Song

Composer Ursula Mamlok has remained dear friends with Alex since she was her teacher at Manhattan School of Music in the early '80s. When Ms. Mamlok arrived from Berlin to New York City June 2012 to attend a concert of her oboe concerto, a German crew working on a documentary titled Movements, about Mamlok's life and music, came along, and filmed a conversation between Ursula and Alex at MSM for the project. The film, directed by Anne Berrini, premiered in Berlin and New York in 2013, coinciding with Mamlok's 90th birthday celebration. A trailer for the documentary (and a few seconds of Alex at the start) can be found here. trailer

Ursula Mamlok

Alex Shapiro



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
Alex Shapiro, photo by Paul Chepikian


New pieces that kept Alex busy 2013-2014:
New work for electroacoustic double reed choir
EVEN DEEPER was premiered August 6, 2014 at the 2014 International Double Reed Society conference. The new piece is an expansion of DEEP, for contrabassoon and electronic soundscape, which has become a favorite of many low register instrumentalists. Contrabass clarinetist Marco Mazzini brought the music to a broader audience with a video that has gone viral to over 100,000 viewers (amazing for an instrument very few people have even heard of), and there have been numerous transcriptions for musicians around the world. This large ensemble version brings the music to new, sternum-rattling depths! Hang on to your seat: audio coming soon!
New work for electroacoustic symphonic wind band
Carthage College Alex was delighted to be commissioned to compose a new electroacoustic wind band work titled LIQUID COMPASS, honoring the 140th anniversary of Carthage College's wind band-- among the oldest in the nation. The piece, conducted by James Ripley, was premiered at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on May 10, 2014.
New work for string orchestra
Maj. Tod A. Addison REMEMBRANCE, Alex's emotional, reflective work for string orchestra, was beautifully premiered August 6, 2013, by the U.S. Army Strings conducted by Major Tod. A. Addison.
New funny encore duet
Duality When pianist Kristin Elgersma was looking for a new piece to perform with alto sax player Vanessa Sielert to add to the repertoire for their duo Duality, Alex came up with BRAT: a short, fast, encore showpiece with Victor Borge-inspired physical comedy. The music also works for clarinet, oboe, and other misbehaved keyboard pairings, and premiered at the University of Idaho Lionel Hampton School of Music on November 14, 2013. 
New work for timpani, percussion and prerecorded electronics



When percussionist/composer David Jarvis mentioned his desire to commission Alex to compose a work for timpani, not only did she jump at the idea, but she immediately suggested that it be a collaboration. After all, the two share an admiration of Schoenberg, Tower of Power, and Buena Vista Social Club, and there has yet to be any concert funk-chill-Afro-Cuban timpani repertoire. Yet. Enter, KETTLE BREW. Cooking along with the kettle drums is some mixed percussion and a prerecorded electronic track, and Jarvis premiered the piece during Alex's residency at Washington State University's Festival of Contemporary Art Music in February 2013.
New electroacoustic work for high school wind band



In the interview Alex gave to the organization Composers & Schools in Concert, she expressed her enthusiasm about professional musicians working with young students, and enhancing the repertoire for high school bands. On the heels of the success of Alex's first piece for students, PAPER CUT, CSIC commissioned Alex to embark on a new electroacoustic work that was premiered on February 13, 2013: TIGHT SQUEEZE.

New suite for viola and harpsichord


McFish, the duo featuring harpsichordist Kathleen McIntosh and violist Marlow Fisher, premiered TRANSPLANTED, a new duet adapted from Alex's solo organ work, TRANSPLANT, September 15, 2013 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The comedic piece is one of a suite that includes two other remarkably silly pieces, titled THREE INSANITIES.


For information about working with Alex, visit Commissions Commissions
island rainbow


Recordings of Alex's music:
Shapiro chamber music collection

Notes from the Kelp CD


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


Add some algae to your life and buy a copy:


Or, download and enjoy all the tracks right now:

iTunes link
eMusic link
Complete discography


Click on any CD for more information.


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

Music for
Hammers & Sticks:
At the Abyss

For My Father

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

Beck and Call:
Of Breath & Touch

Solo Rumores:

Saxtronic Soundscape:
Desert Tide

Delicate Balance:
Water Crossing

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


To listen to these CDs, please visit Recordings Recordings

To purchase these CDs, please visit Purchase Purchase



Where Alex's music can be heard live:


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


  later 2015  
  June 7 Remembrance (string orchestra)
Maplewood, New Jersey
  June 20 Desert Thoughts (flute, clarinet, piano)
Harrods Creek, Kentucky
  July 1 Immersion (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Gorham, Maine
  July 31 Concert of Shapiro works for solo piano
Morgantown, West Virginia
  Aug 6 Below (electric guitar, prerecorded soundscape)
Mexico City, Mexico
  Aug 23 Chord History (solo piano)
Bonn, Germany
  Aug 29 Below (electric guitar, prerecorded soundscape)
Bali, Indonesia
  Aug 31 Below (electric guitar, prerecorded soundscape)
Bali, Indonesia
  Sept 4 Below (electric guitar, prerecorded soundscape)
Bali, Indonesia
  Sept 6 Intermezzo (flute, harp)
Laupen, Switzerland
  Sept 8 Intermezzo, and Spark (piano)
Philippi, West Virginia
  Sept 11 Below (electric guitar, prerecorded soundscape)
Java, Indonesia
  Sept 12 Below (electric guitar, prerecorded soundscape)
Java, Indonesia
  Sept 17 Of Breath and Touch (bassoon, piano)
Oxford, Ohio
  Sept 18 Below (electric guitar, prerecorded soundscape)
Java, Indonesia
  Sept 21 Of Breath and Touch (bassoon, piano)
Los Angeles, California
  Sept 23 Of Breath and Touch (bassoon, piano)
San Francisco, California
  Oct 3 Liquid Compass (symphonic wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Boca Raton, Florida
  Oct 7 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Exeter, Pennsylvania
  Oct 11 Slippery (flute, guitar; PREMIERE!)
Upper Montclair, New Jersey
  Oct 13 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Richmond, Virginia
  Oct 15 Luvina (solo piano)
Guanajuato, Mexico
  Oct 20 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
West Lafayette, Indiana
  Oct 20 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Aurora, Illinois
  Oct 20 Immersion (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Madison, Wisconsin
  Nov 4 Shiny Kiss (solo flute)
Bellingham, Washington
  Nov 7 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Washington, D.C.
  Nov 11 Re:pair (flute, violin)
Los Angeles, California
  Nov 13 Desert Thoughts (flute, clarinet, piano)
Rochester, New York
  Nov 13 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Dortmund, Germany
  Nov 18 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Athens, Ohio
  Nov 19 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Knoxville, Tennessee
  Nov 19 Liquid Compass (symphonic wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Potsdam, New York
  Nov 23 Liquid Compass (symphonic wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Clemson, South Carolina
  Dec 4 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Conway, Arkansas
  Dec 5 Lights Out, Depth, and Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Providence, Rhode Island
  Dec 6 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
San Diego, California
  Dec 8 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
  Jan 15 Of Breath and Touch (bassoon and piano)
Los Angeles, California
  Jan 24 Immersion (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Minneapolis, Minnesota
  Feb 7 Because I Am (SSAA choir and piano Pre-PREMIERE!)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  Feb 7 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  Feb 11 Because I Am (SSAA choir and piano PREMIERE!)
Boston, Massachusetts
  Feb 12 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Cullowhee, North Carolina
  Feb 17 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  Feb 21 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Astoria, Oregon
  Feb 24 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Reno, Nevada
  Mar 1 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Munnsville, New York
  Mar 7 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Faribault, Minnesota
  Mar 7 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Fayetteville, Arkansas
  Mar 10 Liquid Compass (symphonic wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
New London, Connecticut
  Mar 14 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Endwell, New York
  Mar 17 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Owatonna, Minnesota
  Mar 19 Homecoming, Tight Squeeze, and Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Lancaster, California
  Mar 19 Tight Squeeze (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  Mar 20 All-Shapiro Chamber Music Concert: 7 works, including Arcana (PREMIERE!)
Santa Cruz, Californiano;
  Apr 19 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Storrs, Connecticut
  Apr 21 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Lincoln, Nebraska
  Apr 28 Lights Out (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape)
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
  Apr 30 All-Shapiro Wind Band Concert: Lights Out, Tight Squeeze, Liquid Compass, and Homecoming
Laval, France
  May 1 All-Shapiro Wind Band Concert: Lights Out, Tight Squeeze, Liquid Compass, and Homecoming
Laval, France
  May 7 Paper Cut (concert wind band, prerecorded soundscape, printer paper)
Jeju, South Korea


For information about these and other performances, visit Concerts Concerts
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 speaks...
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
killer whale J1, Ruffles


Alex writes...

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, as well as ArtsJournal Blogs including Sandow and Mind the Gap. Here are a few links:

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

Read E-ing There here read

Mind the Gap

IAWM Journal

Alex's life and approach to her music career are the subject of a ten-page article, Compose, Communicate and Connect, for the Journal of the International Alliance for Women in Music, Spring 2005 issue. The article was reprinted in the autumn 2005 and winter 2006 issues of The American Composers Forum magazine, Sounding Board. To download this article, as well as to enjoy several other print and broadcast interviews, click here more

Sounding Board

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, edited by Clint Randles and David Stringham, and published by GIA Publications.

GIA Publications

In January 2006, Alex began a blog titled Notes from the Kelp, her personal commentary from the beach, and perhaps the very best examples of Alex's writing. She regularly posts new ponderings to a large international following of "Kelphistos." Pairing her photos and her music in what she calls a "pixelsonic" experience, Alex invites readers to share the beauty of the environment which inspires her. Visit and drop her a note! blog

blog link


For more of Alex's articles and interviews, visit Essays Essays


Alex gets involved...

In February 2014, Alex was elected by ASCAP's Board of Directors to fill the Symphonic & Concert seat previously held for many years by esteemed composer Stephen Paulus. From 2010-2014 Alex was the elected concert music composer representative to the ASCAP Board of Review. With Board member Jim Kendrick, Alex co-chairs ASCAP's Symphony & Concert Committee, which she joined in 2009. That same year, along with composers Stephen Paulus and Jennifer Higdon, and attorney/publisher Jim Kendrick, she co-founded a U.S. touring series of music business seminars titled, The ASCAP Composer Career Workshop.



New Music USA

In 2010, Alex was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Music Center, a long-established national organization that provides advocacy and support for musicians and composers throughout the United States. At the end of 2011, AMC merged with Meet the Composer to become New Music USA, and Alex chairs its Media Council.

Friday Harbor Labs
In 2008, Alex joined the Advancement Board of the University of Washington's renowned marine science research facility, the Friday Harbor Laboratories. The Labs publishes an engaging newsletter called Tide Bites, issues of which you can read by clicking HERE blog


To learn more about Alex's volunteerism, visit Biography Bio



oyster dock


Experience Alex...
Tune in for Composing Thoughts on WITF-FM, to stream a very animated interview Alex gave with very animated host John Clare. click
Composing Thoughts
Enjoy virtual visits with Alex in the online magazine Tokafi, where her March 2008 (1.) interview ranges from the serious to the silly, and her August 2006 interview (2,) exposes her typically direct opinions on life and music click

1. Tokafi

2. Tokafi
See Alex's essays about the nonmusical concepts behind a very musical career (1.), and about how composers can create income from their web presence (2.!), in the online magazine NewMusicBox click
Look at the one-page Q & A with Alex in the July 2008 issue of Vegetarian Times magazine click Veg Times
Hear Alex Shapiro's live interview about composers and society, in Philip Blackburn's podcast series for the American Composers Forum, Measure for Measure. Here's Part 1 & Part 2.
Measure for Measure
Experience Alex's irreverent sense of humor in her essay that debunks the myths of symphonic concerts. click
Blush along with Alex as you read the lovely article composer and guitarist Don Rath penned for his March 2010 blog. click Don Rath
Watch Alex's avatar as she's once again a guest on a Music Academy OnLive live interview show in Second Life. You can view Alex's first appearance here. It's worth having a look, just to see the dress Alex's avatar, Asha, is wearing! Second Life


For more media, visit Articles and Broadcasts Media
Alex Shapiro, photo by Paul Chepikian


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


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

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

offshore Malibu



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

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

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


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

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


I compose
to communicate.

tide pools
tide pools

Alex at the helm

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

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

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




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




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

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

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


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

Alex Shapiro, photo by Paul Chepikian

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

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


Whiz back up to the top!


island fox
Alex Shapiro, composer
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