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There are plenty of reasons to commission a new piece of music. Let's look at the obvious ones first:

You become the hero who is responsible for a sonic contribution to society.

Your highest cultural values (and yes, even your ego), are satisfied, as you invest in the future of music and in the artistic legacy of your own era.

Your name will live on a score and recording that will be seen around the world. People will think you're cool. You will lose weight, find the love of your life and stop snoring. All because you commissioned a new piece of music.

It happens all the time.




Alex Shapiro.  Photo by Dan Shelley.

Alex Shapiro




But none of the above is the real reason you should engage me to compose a new piece.


The REAL reason is.... (are you ready? This is the stuff no one talks about)


The reason to commission me is...


...because creating art is incredibly rewarding for everyone involved: the commissioner, the composer, the musicians, and the audiences around the world!

grass path


Life is too short not to have as good a time as possible, and that includes enjoying the process involved in the creation of ART.


Of course I'm going to tell you how much you'll like your new piece. But I'll also tell you that:


• You won't lose sleep over whether you'll receive your piece on time, because I work smoothly under deadlines. I'll be the only one who may lose some sleep.

• I write music that, no matter how challenging, is playable and doesn't maim the musicians or compel them to take calculus lessons.

• I deliver professionally bound scores and parts with humanly possible page turns wherever possible, and often include an MP3 of a sampled realization of the music to speed up rehearsal time.

• I'm collaborative by nature. I do not bark, bite, or scream. Usually.

• I'm quite helpful with the necessary PR, and often assist ensembles with radio broadcasts and additional performance venues. I view the process of launching a new work as a team effort. Much like professional football, except that [most of the time] we don't need protective helmets.

• The most important thing to get from any composer is their heart and their original voice. And that's the reason a composer like me spends so much time writing music and exploring new ideas within the art form.

Dark sunrise over the Salish Sea. Photo by Alex Shapiro.


Want to get a sense of Alex? Hear her describe her approach to composing, in this excerpt from a June 2010 interview she gave to Carey Nadeau from the American Composers Forum:



How does commissioning work?


If you've heard a radio broadcast or attended a concert during which you enjoyed my work, or if you've visited the WORKS page on this site, listened to some brief samples and would like to become a vital part of this artistic process, email me to discuss what kind of piece you would like to commission, what kind of timeline you envision, and what the costs of bringing such a project to life would be.

Whether you're interested in an original piece of music for a private occasion or for a public concert, recording, or media project, the process is an enjoyable one. It is common to schedule the creation of a new work two or more years ahead.

Budgets can be creative and flexible, and are often determined by the nature of the funding source, as well as the instrumentation and scope of the desired project. Payments can be made either at the beginning and the subsequent delivery of the score, or over a longer, predetermined time period. I believe in placing the commissioning process within easy reach of anyone interested; the rewards of such collaboration ring out long after the last note is played.

waves at Zuma

inside the wave

waves at Zuma


It's also possible to bring together a consortium of several musicians, ensembles or patrons to jointly co-commission a work. Each enjoys a dedicated premiere concert and published credit for sponsoring the new piece, while easing the finances of the venture. Consortium commissioning gives a new piece immediate, broad exposure through the performances of many ensembles playing for a wide range of audiences.

Costs vary, and an excellent resource to get a sense of the range can be found in a booklet titled, Commissioning Music: A Basic Guide, which you can download from New Music USA, which offers a helpful guideline here.

Additionally, composer/conductor Dominick DiOrio has written an excellent primer titled, A (Somewhat) Brief Guide To Commissioning New Music, the .pdf of which can be downloaded by clicking here.

If desired, my team can also personally assist with securing a fiscal agent for tax purposes.



When a commission comes from a musician or ensemble, collaboration is a very important part of any project. I often include webhearsals into the package, to enjoy the process of connecting with the people bringing the new piece to life.

I often begin by asking what the musicians' needs are: what would contrast well with other pieces on their program?  What mood would they like to explore– slow and pensive, a virtuosic program closer, something unexpected and possibly bizarre, or something else entirely? Who's the audience that they're trying to reach? Most commissions leave these decisions up to the composer, but sometimes pieces are commissioned for specific purposes and occasions. My music may still take an unusual approach outside the norm, but it will be fitting: it is entirely possible for an artist to express their unique vision while honoring the spirit of a commission. 

I also check with ensemble leaders before adding less common instruments, or deciding that their piece should run a little longer than contracted. I don't think surprises are helpful, and I definitely believe that a composer can take the needs of musicians and listeners into account without ever losing her own musical voice.  Respect for this vital triangular relationship is key.


Family of geese floating past Alex's house.
Alex Shapiro, at the MacDowell Colony.


The interaction between the composer and commissioner is a wonderful— and very enjoyable— part of the creative process. I love working with clients, and I welcome the opportunity to dedicate meaningful pieces to musicians and music lovers.

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

You can also send a fax (does anyone use these things anymore?) to:
(270) 916-0093.




What's Alex like to work with?


Knowing a bit about a composer as a person often adds to the perception of her music. If you're interested in reading some of my musings about music, nature and the humor of life in general,
click here

And for even more context about where my music comes from, I invite you to spend a little time perusing my often grin-inspiring and occasionally pun-infused blog, Notes from the Kelp, here blog



Alex at the helm of her sailboat, Sea Natural, off the Santa Barbara coast





Most of all, you can get an excellent idea about my music and what inspires it by clicking the photo above. Got 36 minutes? Get comfortable, settle in with a beverage, and watch my most personal video to date, thanks to an invitation from Composers Now to join its IMPACT series.

Filled with nature and wildlife, puns and pith, and a remarkably broad selection of my music from solo piano to huge electroacoustic ensembles, this multimedia essay premiered August 2, 2022.



And to hear even more: Click the arrow below for a head-spinning tour of some VERY contrasting Shapiro works. One of my favorite comments from listeners is, "some of your pieces don't even sound like they were written by the same person."



Yup. Maybe that's why I love to compose: music is the portal through whcih I can share any part of myself, at any time--and maybe show you a little bit of yourself as well in the process!




21 pieces in 21 minutes!

Below is a list of what's on the reel.

Click any title to see the excerpts,
the names of the performers,
and to hear any piece in its entirety:



DOWNLOAD to listen later:


.WAV (better!)









TIGHT SQUEEZE, for wind band-adaptable
Grade 4
BENEATH, for wind band or orchestra
Grade 4+
LIGHTS OUT, for wind band-adaptable
Grade 4
MOMENT, for wind band
Grade 4
AIRBORNE, for wind band
Grade 5
BREATHE, for wind band
Grade 4+
PAPER CUT, for wind band-adaptable
Grade 3
REMEMBRANCE, for string orchestra
Grade 4+
OFF THE EDGE, for wind band-adaptable
Grade 2.5
DISTANCED, for wind band
Grade 4+
MASKED, for wind band
Grade 5
DEPTH, for wind band
Grade 4
SURFACE, for wind band
Grade 5
LIQUID COMPASS, for wind band
Grade 5
ROCK MUSIC, for wind band-adaptable
Grade 2
ASCENT, for wind band
Grade 4+
PASSAGES, for any ensemble-adaptable
Grade 3 and beyond
COUNT TO TEN, for any ensemble-flex
Grade 0.5 and beyond
TRAINS OF THOUGHT, for wind band
Grade 4+
HOMECOMING, for wind band
Grade 5
VIRAL, for wind band
Grade 5



Drop me an email to say hi and share your world with me, any time.


Alex at home on San Juan Island, WA, 2017.




Alex Shapiro, composer email2
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