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Bald Eagle, by Alex Shapiro
Biographical overview  

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Short bios

Short bios


30-second overview

Composer Alex Shapiro aligns note after note with the hope that at least a few of them will actually sound good next to each other. Her persistence at this activity, as well as non-fiction music writing, public speaking, wildlife photography, and the shameless instigation of insufferable puns on Facebook, has led to a happy life. Drawing from a broad musical palette that defies genre, Alex's acoustic and electroacoustic works are published by Activist Music, performed and broadcast daily, and can be found on over twenty commercial releases from record labels around the world.

This pretty much sums things up. You can continue reading Alex's story, or click the arrow to cut to the chase. the chase

Alex Shapiro, photo by Paul Chepikian
Photo: Paul Chepikian

Bald Eagle


Born in New York City in 1962 and raised in Manhattan, Alex began composing as a much shorter person at age nine. At fifteen, she was encouraged by Leo Edwards in her first private composition lessons during a summer program at Mannes College of Music, at which she also had her first experience building a synthesizer and writing remarkably dreadful electronic music. Alex continued to explore acoustic and synthesized pieces the following two summers with Michael Czajkowski and George Tsontakis, as the youngest composer at the Aspen Music School. Subsequently, Alex was educated at The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music, where she pursued electronic music with Elias Tanenbaum, and was a composition student of Ursula Mamlok and John Corigliano.

An accomplished pianist, Ms. Shapiro was a student of New York recitalist Marshall Kreisler, and she is an active guitarist as well. Alex also plays very bad flute, an instrument sometimes found in the woodwind section wedged between the alto flute and the bass flute.

Alex Shapiro

Geography, physical and musical

In 1983 Shapiro moved to Los Angeles, California, eventually settling in Malibu and accessorizing her music life with reptiles, astronomy, volunteer civil liberties activism, sailing, and plastic dinosaurs. She composed movie and television scores for the first fifteen years of her career, until the joy of scoring a low-budget feature film with a small orchestra in 1996 reawakened her love of composing chamber music. By the late 1990’s, Alex shifted her focus entirely to the concert world, and devised inventive ways to use the still-new internet to let people know about this still-new composer. With the help of her understanding of the music business from having worked in Hollywood, and her experience as a recording engineer and computer geek, and her involvement with music advocacy organizations, Alex's career thrived.

In 2007, established both in person and in pixels, Alex and her plastic dinos traded the traffic and wildfires of southern California for a slightly less dangerous life on Washington State's remote San Juan Island. When she's not composing, Alex procrastinates on her next piece by pointing her camera at the surrounding wildlife, resulting in sometimes-even-award-winning images, including one of a myopic Bald Eagle about to collide with her, featured in The Spirit of Flight 2013 exhibit at Seattle’s Museum of Flight (a much smaller version of which dangles at the top of this web page). Shapiro’s audio and photos fill her blog, Notes from the Kelp, accompanied by her essays on animals, sea life, and human nature, which connect not only Alex’s music, but her heart and her [sometimes groan-inducing] sense of humor, to a wide sphere of colleagues and audiences.

All right, now that we're up to current, here comes the pithier stuff.


Plugging in

Shapiro is a pioneer in the uses of digital media for the promotion of artists' works, and their context within communities. Through interactive social networks and collaborative live, online sessions she calls Skypehearsals, Alex enjoys building relationships with musicians and listeners, preferring to create an affinity for her music by engaging others in their own interests. The author of many articles on new media, in 2009 Shapiro was invited to Washington, D.C., to testify in a Federal Communications Commission hearing about broadband access and digital rights.

Firmly believing that the only artist one is in competition with is oneself, Alex co-founded the ASCAP Composer Career Workshop touring series, advising fellow music-makers on ways to benefit from their creative output. Shapiro is a familiar guest lecturer at universities around the United States, where she mentors students not only in music composition, but in business practices, as well. Alex addresses the philosophy behind a career based on the concepts of kindness, graciousness, and a positive sense of self worth-- topics too rarely discussed in schools.

Avon calling?

Showing up

Even more fun than interacting in pixels, is the in-person work Alex gets to do every year. She enjoys the role of composer-in-residence at new music festivals, and has given lectures, masterclasses, workshops and one-on-one lessons at universities across the United States, including at Yale University, University of Southern California, The Ohio State University, University of Minnesota, Washington State University, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Manhattan School of Music, Capital University, University of Wyoming, Carthage College, and University of Chicago, among many.

Speaking out

Ms. Shapiro appears regularly as a speaker at a wide variety of music events, which have included NARAS' Grammy® in the Schools, the Los Angeles Philharmonic's First Nights series, IAWM's International Congress of Women in Music, the National Performing Arts Convention in Denver, Colorado, three of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institutes, and seven of ASCAP's I Create Music Expos in Hollywood. Between 2000 and 2010 Alex interviewed over 100 composers as the moderator of the Los Angeles Composer Salon series, and of ACF/LA's Composer to Composer series at Walt Disney Concert Hall, and continues as a guest moderator when in Los Angeles.


An enthusiastic leader in the new music community, Ms. Shapiro is the Symphonic & Concert writer representative on the ASCAP Board of Directors, is a co-chair of ASCAP's Symphony & Concert Committee, and serves on the Program Council for New Music USA. Shapiro is the past President of the Board of Directors of the American Composers Forum of Los Angeles, and has also been a board member of U.S. music organizations including The American Music Center, The MacDowell Colony, The College Music Society, NACUSA, and The Society of Composers & Lyricists, of which she was Vice president.

Shapiro's volunteer activism extends beyond the music world to that of civil liberties, and includes three elected terms in the 1990's to the Board of Directors of the ACLU of Southern California. During her film composing days, she served as Vice President of the 30,000-member affiliate, chaired its State and National Legislative Action Committee, and received the ACLU’s 1993 Chapter Activist of the Year award. Alex is currently a Board member of the University of Washington's Friday Harbor Laboratories, a marine science research facility whose mission reflects much of what inspires Shapiro's music.


island foxes, mother and kit

Recent works

Alex's concert music is a diverse collection spanning from chamber groups to large ensembles, and from purely acoustic pieces to works that pair musicians with prerecorded digital audio. Four recent additions to her catalog are electroacoustic, including the 2015 multimedia symphonic band work Lights Out, commissioned by a consortium of 19 high schools and colleges across the U.S., and Kettle Brew, for timpani, mixed percussion and electronics on which she collaborated with percussionist David Jarvis, who premiered the piece during Shapiro's February 2013 residency as guest composer for Washington State University's Festival of Contemporary Art Music. Tight Squeeze, is an uptempo, 12-tone Latin techno bebop electroacoustic wind band work (that's right), which was premiered in February 2013 by conductor Miller Asbill at Brevard College, one of the piece's commissioning partners. Alex's 2014 electroacoustic symphonic wind band work, Liquid Compass, explores the balance between the mysterious and the noble, commissioned and premiered by conductor James Ripley and Carthage College to commemorate the school's 140th anniversary.

Alex Shapiro

Other notable premieres include Alex's 2011 suite for electroacoustic symphonic wind band titled Immersion for a consortium of universities led by the University of Minnesota and broadcast nationally on Minnesota Public Radio. A 2012 acoustic sextet for strings, winds and piano titled Perpetual Spark was commissioned and performed by Chicago's Fifth House Ensemble, which recorded the piece September 2013 for their 2014 CD titled, Excelsior, on Cedille Records produced by Judith Sherman. Another mixed piano sextet, Unabashedly More, was premiered in 2011 at Carnegie Hall by the New York ensemble Lunatics at Large, and pianist Teresa McCollough premiered Ms. Shapiro's solo piano work, Spark, in November 2011 at Roulette in New York City. Shapiro's latest solo piano work, Arcana, is a 25-minute suite that will be premiered by pianist Michael Tierra in 2015.

Perhaps the most popular of Ms. Shapiro's recent works has been her piece for wind band, prerecorded electronics and printer paper (yes, printer paper), titled Paper Cut. Currently performed worldwide multiple times each week, the piece was commissioned in 2010 by the American Composers Forum's BandQuest program and the National Endowment for the Arts. While frequently performed by colleges, Paper Cut is the very first electroacoustic work written specifically for the middle- and high school wind band repertoire. Nearly 100 creative videos of performances using black light, dance, and other visuals can be found on YouTube, from concerts all over the globe.

Shapiro is the author of a chapter in the 2013 GIA Publications book, Musicianship: Composing in Band and Orchestra, and both Paper Cut, and Tight Squeeze, are featured in the field's best known book/CD series, Teaching Music Through Performance in Band, Volume 10, edited by Eugene Migliaro Corporon and released by GIA Publications December 2014. Both pieces were performed at the Midwest Clinic International Band and Orchestra Conference in Chicago in 2011 and 2013, by the VanderCook College of Music Symphonic Band.

Ms. Shapiro was a guest clinician presenting workshops on electroacoustic music and inventive uses of new media at the 2013 Midwest Clinic in Chicago, and the 2014 Texas Music Educators Association in San Antonio, and her in-depth articles on the topic were subsequently published in the June and September 2014 issues of WASBE World, the magazine of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles.

The San Juan Islands

Alex Shapiro, photo by Paul Chepikian
Photo: Paul Chepikian


Ms. Shapiro has been deemed "one of the most noteworthy composers for the 21st century wind band" by Carthage College and Dr. James Ripley upon the May 2014 premiere of Liquid Compass. She is the recipient of national honors and recognitions including those from the American Music Center, ASCAP, the American Composers Forum, and Meet the Composer, and has been awarded artist fellowships from The California Arts Council and The MacDowell Colony. In 2011, Ms. Shapiro was honored by the international music fraternity Mu Phi Epsilon, and presented its highest distinction given to members, the Award of Merit, for her innovative use of new technologies in developing her composing career and helping colleagues do the same. In 2013, Hal Leonard Corporation signed what they call a “groundbreaking, pioneering” exclusive print and digital distribution deal with Activist Music for Ms. Shapiro's symphonic wind band pieces and other larger works from her catalog.


For an electronic press kit, including a program bio, photo, full bio/C.V. and catalog of works, please click here more


For the very latest news on what Alex is doing and where she or her music is doing it, please visit the home page more


For an overview of Alex's activities,
visit the Event Archive more

Alex speaks at many events and motivates people in and outside of the music world. Whether discussing the philosophy of self worth or the importance of a sense of humor, Alex is an engaging presenter who's been referred to by more than a few people as "the female Anthony Robbins of contemporary music, just a lot shorter."

CD Party and lecture


To see a video and obtain booking information, click here more
sunset over Sidney

Want to get a good sense of Alex? Here's a 60 second excerpt from an interview she gave to Lavinia Wright at the 2010 ASCAP EXPO in Hollywood, CA.

Alex is seen here discussing the importance of artists' sense of self worth, and of having a supportive attitude toward one's community:

Bald Eagle take-off
Alex interactive

Alex's career is multi-dimensional, encompassing composing, speaking, and writing, as well as a great deal of community involvement. Oh, and a lot of nature photography that can be seen throughout this website, and on her blog, Notes from the Kelp. Below is a sampling of what keeps her busy.

In the air

Why just read a bio about someone when you can hear what they have to say? Click to watch or listen to Alex on any of these broadcasts.

The Morning Show

May 2014

ASCAP Expo interview

April 2010
approach to composing

May 2010
Advice for conference attendees

April 2010

Alex on SoundNotion

April 2013

Composing Thoughts

January 2008

Swedish Radio

July 2012

ASCAP Audio Portraits

December 2007
Kalvos and Damian

July 2004

Classical Discoveries WPRB-FM

February 2012
Measure for Measure

August 2006
American MusicMakers

February 2006


For more broadcast information, click here more
Pacific Madrone grove
In print

Alex's essays on the new digital paradigm, the internet, free speech and the meaning of net neutrality to all artists, have been read on classical music blogs and magazines like Sandow, Mind the Gap, Adaptistration, Tokafi, and NewMusicBox.

Read E-ing There here more

Read The Economy of Exposure: Publicity as Payment? here more

Read What I Learned About My Tiny Business From Paramount Pictures here more

Read As Important as the Printing Press: Net Neutrality and Artists' Freedom here more





Arts Journal
Sandow blog
Mind the Gap


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.

GIA Publications


Alex has written an extensive two-part article on the subject of her clinic presentations on new media in the band world. 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.

Sounding Board
Chamber Music
21st Century Music

Alex's life and approach to her music career are the subject of autobiographical articles and interviews, including the spring 2005 issue of the Journal for International Alliance for Women in Music, the autumn 2005 and winter 2006 issues of The American Composers Forum magazine, Sounding Board, the June 2008 issue of Chamber Music, the October 2010 issue of 21st Century Music, and the November 2011 article for Composers & Schools in Concert.


For more articles and writings, visit Essays more
sun on the Salish Sea
In view

Alex's thoughts on the importance of artists in America, from an interview she gave to Lavinia Wright at the 2010 ASCAP EXPO in Hollywood, CA.:


To see more videos, visit Alex's YouTube Channel more
Turn Island
In person
ASCAP Composer Career Workshops

In response to the need for 21st century composers to embrace an entrepreneurial approach to their careers, in 2009 Alex joined forces with composers Stephen Paulus and Jennifer Higdon, and attorney and EAM/Schott Music president Jim Kendrick, to co-found a U.S. touring series of music business seminars titled, The ASCAP Composer Career Workshops. With the full funding support of ASCAP, varying combinations of the group with Shapiro as the mainstay, conduct four-hour workshops about publishing, copyright, web presence, recording, and many other skills, for composers at all stages of their careers. As of September 2015, twelve workshops will have been presented around the U.S., including:

ASCAP Composer Career Workshop

Trevecca Nazarene University, Nashville, TN, 2015
San Francisco Conservatory of Music, San Francisco, CA, 2015
Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA, 2013
Yale University, New Haven, CT, 2012
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, 2011
Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, 2011
ASCAP offices, New York, NY, 2011
The ASCAP "I Create Music" EXPOs, Hollywood, CA, 2010 and 2011
San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, 2010
University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 2009, and
Philadelphia Music Project, Philadelphia, PA, 2009.


2015 has already included composer residencies at University of Hawai'i and Fort Hays State University, including many lectures, masterclasses and concerts.

University of Hawai'i
Fort Hays State University

2014 featured composer residencies at University of Missouri-Kansas City, SUNY Fredonia, St. George's School, Western Washington University, and NYSSMA as well as Carthage College, for lectures and concerts, including the premiere of LIQUID COMPASS.

Univ. of  Missouri Kansas City
Carthage College
SUNY Fredonia
St. George's School
SUNY Fredonia
2013 included Alex's visits to Western Washington University and Southern Oregon University, to give master classes and private composition lessons. In June, Cynthia Hutton conducted the Southern Oregon University Symphonic Band in a concert of Alex's wind ensemble music.
Western Washington Univ.
Southern Oregon University

The 2012-2013 season included composer residencies at University of Wyoming and Washington State University, as the guest for their respective new music festivals.

Univ. of Wyoming
Washington State Univ.


To see more of Alex's recent activities, visit Event Archive more
Alex with hanging bull kelp

Many CDs are currently available which feature Alex Shapiro's works, and there are new recordings coming out in the next year from a variety of artists. Alex's own CD of several of her favorite chamber works, Notes From the Kelp, was released October 2007 on Innova Recordings and is in its second pressing.

To read what All Music Guide had to say about Alex's CD, Notes from the Kelp, click here review


Notes from the Kelp CD


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
Midwest Clinic
Midwest Clinic:
Paper Cut
Midwest Clinic:
Tight Squeeze


To listen to excerpts from these CDs, visit Recordings more
Flattop, Waldron, and rainbow
Newer Works

Lights Out premiere poster

Listen to the University of Memphis Symphonic Band's premiere of LIGHTS OUT, conducted by Armand Hall: 



April 29, 2015: Commissioned by a consortium of 19 high schools and colleges across the U.S., LIGHTS OUT may be the first truly multimedia band piece, in which the visuals were composed into the score. Playing it in the dark is preferred! Click here to read more about this adventurous piece which looks as cool as it sounds. read


Liquid Compass premiere poster

Listen to the first three minutes of the Carthage College Band's premiere of LIQUID COMPASS, conducted by James Ripley: 



May 10, 2014: Commissioned by Carthage College to commemorate its 140th anniversary, LIQUID COMPASS is a tone poem about a journey that spans the mystical and the triumphant. The piece migrates to many places, but never loses its bearings in pursuit of a musical true north. Click here to read more about this watery piece. read


Tight Squeeze, indeed!

Listen to the VanderCook College of Music Symphonic Band's performance of TIGHT SQUEEZE at the 2013 Midwest Clinic, conducted by Charlie Menghini: 



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 electroacoustic wind band piece was premiered at Brevard College with conductor Miller Asbill, with additional consortium premieres around the U.S. in 2013 and 2014. Click here to read about the piece, and to see more weird photos of a young gull attempting to swallow his lunch. read



Listen to the premiere: 

1. hear   2.  hear


February, 2012: Alex's newest chamber sextet, PERPETUAL SPARK, has been heard in many Chicago-area concerts throughout 2012 and 2013, performed by familiar partners to her musical crimes, Fifth House Ensemble, who recorded the piece in September 2013 for their 2014 CD on Cedille Records, Excelsior, produced by Judith Sherman.

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.


Lunatics at Large

Listen to the premiere:

1. hear   2.  hear


March 21, 2011: The New York ensemble Lunatics at Large premiered Alex's chamber sextet, UNABASHEDLY MORE, for flute/piccolo, clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano at Carnegie Hall, as part of the ensemble's Sanctuary Project, which paired composers and poets collaborating on new works.


Classical MPR-Immersion


Click here to listen to the premiere of IMMERSION! hear


February 16, 2011: Alex's electroacoustic symphony for winds and percussion, IMMERSION, was beautifully premiered by conductor Jerry Luckhardt and the University of Minnesota Symphonic Band, and broadcast nationally from Minnesota Public Radio.



To see a sampling of performances, visit Concerts more
crab claw
Kindness from others

Alex has been honored by the international music fraternity Mu Phi Epsilon with its highest distinction given to members, the Award of Merit. Citing "her dedication to new music composition and activism for the arts," the award, given to a member biannually, was presented at the Mu Phi Epsilon National Convention held in August 2011 at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. To read the lovely inscription on the placque, click here more

MPE Award of Merit

PAPER CUT is a unique addition to middle school band repertoire, and conductor Jeffrey Gershman of Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music penned a glowing review in his premiere column for the July 2013 issue of School Band & Orchestra. To read it, click here more

School Band & Orchestra

Here's Kyle Gann's remarkably insightful profile on Alex and the music of Notes from the Kelp, for his American Composer series in the May/June 2008 issue of Chamber Music magazine more

Chamber Music

Here's the wonderful All Music Guide review of Alex's chamber music CD, Notes from the Kelp more

All Music Guide


For a list, visit Awards and Reviews more

Alex Shapiro's concert scores are published by her company Activist Music and are directly available through the Purchase page of this website. Much of the Activist Music catalog is available through J.W. Pepper and Son, Inc. and Theodore Front Musical Literature, Inc., and many works in her catalog are also distributed by Harrassowitz, and Hickey's Music Online Ms. Shapiro is pleased to welcome the Hal Leonard Corporation as the exclusive distributor of her symphonic wind band works, as well as other larger ensemble pieces in the Activist Music catalog.

Ms. Shapiro's woodwind music can be found at Just for Winds, and her music for double reeds is also sold through TrevCo Music. Shapiro's flute music is also available through Flute World, and Carolyn Nussbaum Music Company, and her brass music can also be ordered from Just for Brass, and BVD Press. Ms. Shapiro's percussion music can be found at Steve Weiss Music.

The name Activist Music originates from Ms. Shapiro's belief that all people must be encouraged to raise their voices, articulate their principles and do what they can to affect change around them, whether in politics, within their own neighborhoods, or through the art which they share with others. Activist Music is an elected member of the National Music Publishers' Association, which works to protect intellectual property rights and expand U.S. Copyright law.

To download a .pdf of the complete Activist Music catalog,
please click here


To order Alex Shapiro's scores and CDs, visit Purchase more
sea ducks on the Salish Sea
Professional Involvement
Shapiro-HuangAlex with composer Joan Huang during an ACF/LA Composer's Salon.


ACF Salon
Alex (left), with 2007 Composer Salon participants (clockwise from top): Gernot Wolfgang, Giovanna Imbesi, Michael Roth, Randy Newman, Bei Bei He, Kubi Uner (seated) and Drew Schnurr.

In February 2014, Alex was elected by ASCAP's Board of Directors to fill the Symphonic & Concert seat previously held for over twenty years by the late Stephen Paulus. She was re-elected by ASCAP's general membership in March 2015. Ms. Shapiro served on the Board of Directors of the American Music Center when it merged in 2011 with Meet the Composer and became New Music USA, for which she served as Chairperson of its Media Council until 2015. From 2010-2013 Alex served on the Board of Directors of The MacDowell Colony, and she is the past President of the Board of Directors of the American Composers Forum of Los Angeles, and past Chairperson of the ACF/LA Advisory Council. Between 2000 and 2010 Alex was the Moderator of ACF's popular Composer's Salon series, as well as its Composer to Composer series held at Walt Disney Concert Hall. She has served as an officer of The National Association of Composers, USA (NACUSA) and as an officer of the Pacific Southern Chapter of The College Music Society.

In 1997 Shapiro co-chaired a committee for ASCAP to develop composers' contract standards for negotiations for the use of original music over the internet, and she is currently a member of ASCAP's Symphonic & Concert Committee. Along with fellow committee members composers Stephen Paulus, Jennifer Higdon, and attorney and EAM/Schott Music president Jim Kendrick, Alex founded a U.S. touring series of music business seminars titled, The ASCAP Composer Career Workshop. From 2010-2014, Alex served as the elected national concert music composer representative on the ASCAP Board of Review.

From 2003 to 2007, Alex served on the Advisory Board for the Los Angeles City College Music Department, and she is a longtime member of the Alumni Council of Manhattan School of Music.

In 1994 Ms. Shapiro joined the Board of Directors of The Society of Composers & Lyricists, the professional association of film music artists, and served three terms from 1994-2000, including two years as the organization's Vice president. Alex extended her efforts with The Society of Composers & Lyricists in her role as the Chairperson of the 1996-1999 Film & TV Music Conferences, co-presented in Los Angeles at The Directors Guild of America by the SCL and The Hollywood Reporter.

Schalchlin-ShapiroAlex with musical theater artist Steve Schalchlin during an ACF/LA Composer's Salon.

Alex chaired the Public Relations Committee for Women in Film's 1993 Crystal Awards, honoring Jack Lemmon and Julie Andrews, and has volunteered her time to many arts and music organizations in Los Angeles. Reflecting her achievements as a composer as and as public advocate for artists, Alex's biography is included in the Marquis Who's Who in America and Who's Who in American Women.

Composer/pianist Billy Childs, Alex, and composers and Salon producers
Kubi Uner and Giovanna Imbesi at a 2005 Composers Salon Alex moderated
at Tuttomedia Studios in Venice, CA.

Alex with composers Larry Karush and Terry Riley
by her home in Malibu, June 2006,
where they performed a house concert.

Composer Randy Newman and Alex during Newman's presentation
at the July 2007 Composers Salon which Alex moderated in Venice, CA.

Shapiro and Rudy
Alex and composer Paul Rudy in March 2014, flanking the poster for their joint electro-visual concert
during Alex's residency at UMKC School of Music.

Public Speaking

An engaging public speaker with an unusually broad range of experience, Alex has moderated panels for countless seminars. She's a familiar face to audiences at The Society of Composers & Lyricists, and The American Composers Forum, for which she has interviewed over 100 composers including Steven Stucky, Randy Newman, Mort Subotnick, Anne LeBaron, Mark Watters, Bruce Broughton, Vinny Golia, David Newman, Joan Huang, Stephen Paulus, John Steinmetz, Bear McCreary, Morten Lauridsen, and Bill Kraft for the Los Angeles Composers Salon series. Additionally, Alex has also conducted American Composer Forum Composer to Composer interviews at Walt Disney Concert Hall and other Los Angeles venues with guests as diverse as Steve Reich, Gavin Bryars, Christopher Rouse, Don Davis and Billy Childs.

Alex was the Keynote Speaker at the October 2006 Society of Composers, Inc. National Student Conference, and represented musicians on a panel she also moderated in June 2008 at the enormous National Performing Arts Convention in Denver, CO, at the Colorado Convention Center.

Alex at 2008 ASCAP Expo
Alex on a 2008 ASCAP EXPO panel with John Mackey, Doug Wood, upper row, and Frank J. Oteri and Martha Mooke, lower.

Alex at 2011 ASCAP Expo
Alex gave a 2011 ASCAP EXPO Composer Career Workshop with ASCAP boardmembers Jim Kendrick and Stephen Paulus, standing with ASCAP's Concert Music Dept. Asst. VP Cia Toscanini.

Composers Institute




Chamber Music America

Among the panel discussions Alex has led for the SCL are The Virtuoso Soloist in Film Music, presented on the scoring stage of 20th Century Fox Studios in 2000 and featuring violinist Joshua Bell (The Red Violin), pianist Ralph Grierson (E.T.), and bagpiper Eric Rigler (Titanic), and the 2004 seminar, Launching Your Film Scoring Career. On the topic of new technologies, Alex moderated a session for the 2004 Music Business Chops seminar in Los Angeles, with industry leaders including CD Baby founder Derek Sivers, Tony van Veen of Disc Makers, and Jim Griffin of Cherry Lane Digital.

In 2004 Alex appeared on stage at Walt Disney Concert Hall with conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic to co-host the sold-out premiere of Steven Stucky's Pulitzer prize-winning work, Second Concerto for Orchestra, for the L.A. Phil's First Nights series. In January 2006 and again in January 2009, Ms. Shapiro was a panel speaker for the Chamber Music America Conference in New York City. In February 2006 she was the moderator for an evening of composer Chen Yi's works at the New Music Festival at Santa Clara University.

Alex is an especially familiar speaker on the uses of digital media for the promotion of artists' careers. She has been a featured speaker at seven of the ASCAP EXPOs in Hollywood, the 2009, 2010 and 2012 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institutes, the American Composer Forum's Making Music Work series at McNally-Smith College, NETMCDO (Network of Music Career Development Officers), two of Chamber Music America's national conferences in New York City, the National Performing Arts Convention in Denver, and around the U.S. at the ASCAP Composer Career Workshops, of which she is a co-founder. In 2009 Alex was invited to testify to the FCC in Washington, D.C. in a public hearing on broadband access and priacy issues.

Live Broadcasts
Alex Shapiro

Alex has been a lively guest on numerous radio and podcast shows, and was most recently heard in May 2014 on Wisconsin Public Radio's Morning Show with Gregory Berg, discussing her work along with fellow guest conductor James Ripley, who premiered LIQUID COMPASS the following night. In July 2012 Swedish Radio host Birgitta Tollan interviewed Alex in New York City, and in February 2012 Alex was a guest on Marvin Rosen's Classical Discoveries show on Princeton Univeristy's WPRB-FM, in a three hour interview during which seven of her works were broadcast.

Other appearances include Los Angeles' KPFK-FM's For the Record with Samm Brown, Music of the Americas with Jeannie Pool, the KXLU-FM Los Angeles program, Trilogy, and The Audition Booth with Martin Perlich on KCSN-FM, as well as WGDR-FM's Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, and the nationally syndicated NPR show,Theme and Variations. An interview Alex gave producer Steven Rosenfeld of Behind the Beat appears on the ASCAP Audio Profiles page, and her interview with John Clare for the WITF-FM radio show Composing Thoughts aired in 2008. The virtual world is an active arena as well, and Alex has been the February 2008 and May 2009 guest on the Second Life Cable Network talk show for Music Academy Online.

Alex's life and music were the subject of a one-hour interview on a 2006 radio series called American MusicMakers produced by Theme and Variations host Will Everett, airing on over 70 public radio stations across the U.S. She has also been the featured guest on Los Angeles major market syndicated shows on KFI 640 and KABC 790 AM radio. Her interview for the American Composers Forum series, Measure for Measure, was the inaugural August 2006 broadcast for the new podcast program.

To hear these broadcasts, click here more
Community Involvement and Activism

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. In 2015, the Songwriter Equity Act was at the core of ASCAP's discussions on Capitol Hill. Alex spoke with five Representatives, including Janice Hahn (D-CA) and Joaquin Castro (D-TX), pictured here with Alex, composer Richard Bellis, and ASCAP board President and Chairman Paul Williams.

ASCAP Lobbying in Washington, D.C.
ASCAP Lobbying in Washington, D.C.

In 2009, Shapiro joined fellow ASCAP members on Capitol Hill to meet with numerous senators and congresspeople in an effort to ensure audio visual download rights.

lobbying with ASCAP
lobbying with ASCAP
ASCAP lobbying
Alex (right) lobbying in Washington, D.C. in May, 2009
with ASCAP board members and staff.
Above, speaking to Senator Arlen Specter (R/D-PA),
and to Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) in their offices.
Shapiro was the sole artist testifying on an FCC panel hearing in 2009 about broadband access. Her career has become representative of the way the internet and digital technology have given anyone with a computer the ability to create a global presence. You can read her statement here more

Also on the panel were:

Dan Glickman, chairman and CEO of Motion Picture Association of America;
Frederick Huntsberry, COO of Paramount Pictures;
Michael Bracy, policy director of Future of Music Coalition;
Chuck Slocum, assistant executive director of the Writers Guild of America;
Mike Carroll, Professor of Law, American University;
Gigi Sohn, attorney and founder of Public Knowledge;
Patrick Ross, executive director of Copyright Alliance;
and Kathy Garmezy, assistant executive director of the Directors Guild of America.
The proceedings can be viewed here

The following week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski quoted Alex's testimony in his keynote address at the Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit in D.C. You can watch his speech and that of Minnesota Senator Al Franken here, via C-SPAN more


C-SPAN broadcast of Alex testifying at the FCC in Washington, D.C., September 2009.

Excerpt from the prepared remarks of Chairman Julius Genachowski
Federal Communications Commission
Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit
Washington, D.C., October 5, 2009

"Now, why is the adoption of fair rules of the road -- Net Neutrality rules -- so important? Well, the artists, songwriters, and independent producers in the music industry know better than most. For example, at a recent public workshop held at the FCC we heard Alex Shapiro who discussed how the Internet allows her to manage her career even from rural Washington State.

Let me read from her testimony: "My name is Alex Shapiro, and I'm a composer. My use of the Internet has significantly shaped the evolution of my career, and has allowed me to reach audiences around the world, obtain commissions, and sell recordings and scores -- all from a fairly isolated outpost on a bridge-less island in Washington State."

Her point is an essential one. You don't have to be Bruce Springsteen to reach your audience on the Internet. You can be an independent artist on an island -- whether literal or musical -- and reach everyone who has an Internet connection."

AS speaking at SJCounty Council
Alex addressing the San Juan County Council and
Planning Commission in February, 2012

Alex's activism is on the local level, as well: in February 2012 she appeared before the joint meeting of the San Juan County Council and the Planning Commission, to speak on behalf of the vital need for high speed broadband access for all of the San Juan Islands.
Alex Shapiro
Alex delivering a speech in 1993 as ACLU/SC Vice president.
Along with her involvement in the music industry, Ms. Shapiro has distinguished herself in an additional area of passionate pursuit— civil liberties. She served on the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California from 1990 to 1996; as Vice President of the nation's largest, 30,000 member affiliate, Ms. Shapiro frequently appeared on radio and television broadcasts as a spokesperson for a wide variety of individual and artistic freedoms.

In her capacity as the Chairperson of the ACLU/SC's State and National Legislation Committee, Alex produced three Conferences that brought State senators, Assembly members, clergy and community leaders together for day-long seminars to openly debate current issues, often related to the same free speech and First Amendment rights upon which all artists rely. Alex is the recipient of three awards from the ACLU honoring her activism, including being named the 1993 Chapter Activist of the Year.

Mount Baker

Alex with composer Morten Lauridsen
on Waldron Island, WA, July 2011.

Alex with composer Ursula Mamlok
in Santa Barbara, CA, June 2006.

Composer Carman Moore shares a laugh with Alex in New York City,
May 2011 (Photo by Norberto Valle).

Alex, with the late pianist Leonard Stein and composer Steven Stucky
as she spoke at the March 2004 ACF/Los Angeles Music Room.

Published Essays & Articles

Alex Shapiro

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, published by GIA Publications. She is the featured composer in the ten-page autobiographical lead article, Compose, Communicate and Connect for the Journal of the International Alliance for Women in Music, Spring 2005 issue. Widely praised for its candor, the article was reprinted in two parts in the Autumn 2005 and Winter 2006 issues of the magazine of the American Composers Forum, Sounding Board.

Alex has written an extensive two-part article on the subject of her clinic presentations on new media in the band world. The 8,000 word 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.

Shapiro has been a regular contributor to The Society of Composers & Lyricists' award-winning publication, The Score, and is the author of several columns on composers and new technology, including the journal's cover article entitled Multimedia: You Can Get There From Here. She has also been a recurring essayist for the online magazine, New Music Box in an exploration of new music and the labels of neo-romanticism, and on the subjects of artists and self worth, and using the web to create income.

In addition to articles on music business and technology for publications ranging from New Music Box to the newsletter for American Express cardholders, Alex has been a familiar presence on the Sequenza 21 web blog, winner of the 2005 ASCAP Deems Taylor Internet Award. To read Alex's essays on music, nature and her humorous musings about life in general, click here.

Alex is also the author of the photosonic blog, Notes from the Kelp, which pairs her wildlife photographs with audio clips of her music each week, offering a personal view into her unique island environment.

In April 2006 Alex was invited to contribute to a set of guest essays about bringing new listeners to the symphony, on Drew McManus' widely read orchestra management blog, Adaptistration. Her essay and many others appear in the collection, Take a Friend to the Orchestra.

Shapiro has been profiled in numerous articles and interviews, including being featured in Kyle Gann's American Composer series in the May/June 2008 issue of Chamber Music magazine. Other pieces about her life and work have appeared in New Music Forum, Sigma Alpha Iota's Pan Pipes, Mu Phi Epsilon's Triangle, and NACUSA's Composer/USA, as well as in publications spanning from the Malibu Surfside News to Great Britain's Music & Vision Magazine. She has been featured in articles on working composers in two Film & TV Music Special Issues of The Hollywood Reporter, in the Journal of the International Alliance for Women in Music and in issues of the American Composers Forum magazine, Sounding Board. The online magazine, Tokafi, has featured Alex twice in wide-ranging interviews for its August 2006 and March 2008 issues, and Alex was the August 2006 featured composer for the professional music network, My Auditions. Alex's life and music have been the subject of several doctoral dissertations.


To read these and other writings, visit Essays more

Composers David Rakowski and Alvin Singleton with Alex
at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, September 2003.

McCollough and Shapiro
Pianist Teresa McCollough with Alex,
at sea in the San Juan Islands, August 2007.

MSM Reunion Dinner
Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner, October, 2008, Manhattan School of Music:
(seated) Composer Aaron Jay Kernis, Alex Shapiro, MSM President Robert Sirota,
Vickie Sirota, (standing) Elizabeth Dworkin, Dylan Maulucci,
Salvatore Di Vittorio, Santa Maria Pecoraro, and Arkady Aronov.

Guest Lectures & Residencies

Committed to sharing knowledge about music and about the business of working as a musician, Alex is regularly invited to be a guest lecturer to composition classes at colleges, universities and music conservatories across the U.S., many of which have produced concerts devoted to her music. Some of the many institutions at which she has spoken include:

The Juilliard School
Manhattan School of Music
California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)
Yale University
McNally Smith College
University of Minnesota
University of Wyoming
The Ohio State University
California State University, Sacramento
Southern Oregon University
Santa Clara University
The Walden School
Western Washington University

Cornish College of the Arts

Capital University
San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Fullerton College
Arizona State University
San Diego State University
Western Washington University
Murray State University
University of Missouri-Kansas City
University of Hawai'i
California State University, Fullerton
Carthage College
Fort Hays State University
University of Washington, Friday Harbor Laboratories
Colorado State University
Sierra College
University of Puget Sound
University of California at Santa Barbara
University of Southern California, and
University of Chicago.

Alex with Los Angeles composers Barry Schrader and Peter Grenader, February 2006.
Alex in the lavender fields of San Juan Island with composer Anne LeBaron, July 2011.
Alex with the late bassist/composer Jimmy Bond and percussionist/composer Bill Kraft in Los Angeles, August 2006.
Jazz, Film & Television Scores
Alex Shapiro worked for fifteen years in the commercial music world, scoring feature films, television shows, commercials and documentaries.
As featured inn







Reporter article

Reporter article Reporter article

Film and TV Music Special Issue of
The Hollywood Reporter, 1994 (Alex, top right)

Film and TV Music Special Issue of
The Hollywood Reporter, 1995

Alex's music is the soundtrack for the 2011 short art video, REFLECTION, created by artist Grimanesa Amoros. The video was premiered in the International Streaming Festival, Sixth Edition at the Hague in the Netherlands, and was also screened in Milan, Italy, and on Video Art World. REFLECTION is included in Amoros's 2013 Video Retrospective in Lima, Peru. An excerpt of the video can be seen here

Amoros video, REFLECTION


For full information and many audio clips, visit Film/TV/Jazz more

Alex with pianist Mike Lang
in Los Angeles, September 2005.

Local Life
Alex Shapiro
Alex Shapiro

Alex's life in the San Juan Islands
when she's not in her studio.

Friday Harbor Labs
The Friday Harbor Laboratories

As a certified sailor, a sea kayaker and an avid tide-pooler, Alex's daily life reflects her love of marine biology. In 2008 she was honored to join the Development Advisory Board of the renowned University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories.

San Juan Islands
The San Juan Islands

The ocean is a significant part of Alex's life, and if Alex wasn't a musician, she'd probably be a marine biologist. Click above for local information about this beautiful environment which inspires her music.

Other than nature photography, how else does Alex spend her time? In addition to being a sailor, she loves ocean kayaking and used to be an avid downhill skier until she accepted that gravity is not just a concept, it's a law. Alex tries to balance her music life with her love of the outdoors and the intoxicating scent of SPF 50 sunscreen.

For more local photos, and Alex's observations about music and everything that inspires it, visit Alex's blog, Notes from the Kelp.


Professional Affiliations
The following organizations are of interest to readers looking for
more information, and may be of particular assistance to composers
seeking ways to further their careers:
  Symphonic & Concert Writer Member, Board of Directors, ASCAP
  Co-Chair, Symphony & Concert Committee, ASCAP
  Voting member,The Recording Academy (NARAS; The Grammys)
  Past concert music representative, Board of Review, ASCAP
  Past Board member, American Music Center
  Past Board member, The MacDowell Colony
  Past Chairperson, Media Council, New Music USA
  Member, Alumni Council, Manhattan School of Music
  Member, past President, American Composers Forum of Los Angeles
  Member, past Vice President, The Society of Composers & Lyricists (SCL)
  Member, past officer, NACUSA (National Association of Composers, USA)
  Member, past officer, The College Music Society,Pacific Southern Chapter
  Member, American Composers Forum
  Member, Chamber Music America
  Member, Electronic Music Foundation
  Member,SEAMUS (Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the U.S.)
  Member, Society of Composers, Inc. (SCI)
  Member, International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM)
  Member, ACME, Mu Phi Epsilon
  Member, Mu Phi Epsilon International Committee
  Member, Mu Phi Epsilon
  Member, Sigma Alpha Iota Composers Bureau
  Member, The Dominant Club Music Association
  Member, Board, Mladi Chamber Orchestra
  Member, VTEA Advisory Council, Los Angeles City College Music Department
  Member, Advisory Board, Kalvos and Damian's New Music Bazaar
  Fellowship panelist, 2004, The McKnight Foundation
  Fellowship recipient, 2000, California Arts Council
  Fellowship recipient, 2003-2004, The MacDowell Colony
  Biography listed in Marquis' Who's Who in America
  Member, Advancement Board, University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories
For additional helpful resources, visit Links more
Contact and Press Kit
To obtain a
short program bio for print,
please click here
Program Bio
Program Bio
To obtain program notes
for any of Ms. Shapiro's works,
please click here
Program notes
Program notes
To download a
high resolution photograph for print,
please click here
Alex Shapiro photo
To download a .pdf of a complete
narrative bio/C.V. for print,
please click here
Bio and C.V.
Bio and C.V.
To download a .pdf of the complete
Activist Music catalog,
please click here

To contact Alex Shapiro,
email is best.
Click here to send Alex a note


You can also leave
voice message
or send a
fax by dialing:
(270) 916-0093


Interact with the composer!
See Alex in the context of the world around her, through the nature-oriented lens of her popular blog, Notes from the Kelp, and in the social networks.

blog link

Alex at the helm

Cap'n Al at the helm of her
first sloop, "Sea Natural."






Alex Shapiro, composer email2
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