You're here




Symphony for Winds, Percussion,
and Pre-recorded Soundscape.

Composed by Alex Shapiro

2010; Total duration: 23:00.
Three movement work.
86 pages, 9" x 12".
Published by Activist Music LLC (ASCAP).


Grade 4 and beyond (DEPTH and BENEATH) and Grade 5 (SURFACE).

Each movement can also be programmed separately. Click the title for more info:

DEPTH (7:43)
SURFACE (3:55)
BENEATH (10:10)


Click here to order

score cover




Click the arrow below to hear
the live premiere recording of
at Ted Mann Hall, Minneapolis, MN.,
February 16, 2011
performed by the University of Minnesota
Symphonic Band,
Jerry Luckhardt, conductor.

DEPTH begins at 00:00;
SURFACE begins at 07:34;
BENEATH begins at 11:35.



IMMERSION is available as a
physical, bound set of score and parts
plus audio downloads,
or as a digital set of .pdf score and parts,
plus audio downloads.

Full set: $350.
Separate movements: $150 each.
Score only: $60.





Click here to order from Activist Music:



Click the icon to order the
print set from Hal Leonard:

Hal Leonard


Orca. Photo by Alex Shapiro.







Seal devouring an octopus! Photo by Alex Shapiro.


Program Note:


IMMERSION brings listeners on a sonic journey into a private, aquatic realm. Beneath the surface of the ocean is a world of liquid beauty and grace hidden from our eyes and from our imagination. Even in this habitat of life and hope, exquisite creatures remain vulnerable to events triggered from beyond their fragile sanctuary. Follow your ears and your heart to the depths of a place we sometimes forget to look.



PROGRAM BIO for Alex Shapiro Photo and bio

Alex Shapiro bio and photos



Downloads for perusal


To download each movement separately, email Alex for the guest access code, then click below. Scores are for perusal only, NOT for performance.


Listen to a live premiere of IMMERSION

Download the perusal scores to IMMERSION

Purchase the full set of score, parts, and audio tracks

DEPTH (7:49; 21 pages):

1. listen to Depth
perusal score for DEPTH
purchase DEPTH


SURFACE (4:07; 37 pages):

2. listen to Surface
perusal score for SURFACE

purchase SURFACE


BENEATH (10:11; 32 pages):

3. listen to Beneath
perusal score for BENEATH
purchase BENEATH


(25:00; 80 pages):

perusal score for IMMERSION

purchase IMMERSION


Premiere performance, recorded live at Ted Mann Hall in Minneapolis, MN., February 16, 2011 by Minnesota Public Radio, performed by the University of Minnesota Symphonic Band, Jerry Luckhardt, conductor.



A note from Alex:



IMMERSION is a three-movement symphony that can be presented as one longer piece, or modularly, in any combination of movements together or separately. Depth, and Beneath, are moderate in tempo, while Surface is very fast and percussive, and even suitable as an encore.


The sea has been a constant in my life: I have always lived on or next to the water. From my upbringing by the rivers flanking Manhattan, to my earlier adult life on the Pacific ocean in Malibu and Santa Barbara, living on the beach as well as on a sailboat, to my current existence on the Salish Sea in the Pacific Northwest where I can kayak from my home in the San Juan Islands to outlying atolls, I’ve spent a lot of time observing water and water-based life.


My studio on San Juan Island is in a largely glass house built on the very edge of the sea with an enormous view across the Salish Sea from the San Juans to the U.S. mainland, and as I composed Immersion, the ocean and its fascinating wildlife were my constant companions. Had I not been a musician, I might have become a marine biologist, and my interest in these sciences is reflected by my participation on the Advancement Board of University of Washington's Friday Harbor Laboratories, a preeminent marine science research center. I have a deeply fortunate life, to be a composer with an inner view to working scientists, and most of all, to have a window to the daily lives of wild creatures whose private existence is often beneath the surface, in the depth of the sea. I seek to share this private world, through music.


Immersion would not have been possible without the endless support, enthusiasm and collaborative work of Jerry Luckhardt, whose vision and assistance are deeply appreciated.






Alex appears in three of director Michael Stillwater's
documentary films: Shining Night,

Beyond the Fear of Singing
and In Search of the Great Song.
Click below to watch a short excerpt from the latter,
scored with the whale song track from BENEATH
and filmed at Alex's home on San Juan Island, WA.:



Alex Shapiro. Photo by Dan Shelley.






Want to hear how Alex found the perfect whale for this piece? Click here to read a short interview with her, on the blog The Natural World.



Orca whale breaching. Photo by Alex Shapiro.


Enjoy this video of Lt. Col. Don Schofield USAF conducting DEPTH at Armstrong State University, with the 2015 - 2016 GMEA District 1 - 11-12 Honor Band, on February 6, 2016 (music begins at 2:10):






Hear Alex's description of IMMERSION, and the entire symphony



February 15, 2012: Alex was the in-studio guest on Marvin Rosen's new music 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:


Marvin Rosen with Alex at WPRB
Alex chatting with host Marvin Rosen at WPRB-FM
during her broadcast at Princeton University in New Jersey.




Where do composers get their inspiration? You can see more of Alex's photos, including the sequence of the life-and-death sea lion vs. octopus smack down as described by Alex in the Classical Discoveries interview, on this page of her blog, Notes from the Kelp. blog


blog link to octopus


Shapiro writing studio. Photo by Alex Shapiro.
Alex Shapiro's studio, and her view
while composing "Immersion."



"There are less than a handful of [electroacoustic] pieces in the repertoire, and nothing like this one. Alex has a unique voice in music that I find stunningly beautiful and connected.


--Jerry Luckhardt, Conductor, University of Minnesota Symphonic Band; 2011.



UofM Immersion premiere
The video and lighting effects for the premiere of "Immersion"
at University of Minnesota.




Enjoy videos of each movement of IMMERSION, performed by the Washington State University Wind Ensemble, conducted by Danh Pham on a concert devoted to Shapiro's music during her residency as guest composer for the Festival of Contemporary Art Music on February 9, 2013.


WSU performance
DEPTH: movement 1 of IMMERSION.


WSU performance
SURFACE: movement 2 of IMMERSION.


WSU performance
BENEATH: movement 3 of IMMERSION.





You can also enjoy a setting of SURFACE that, while still related to being underwater, has nothing to do with sea life! This video that Alex shot is scored with a recording of the live premiere of SURFACE, performed by the University of Minnesota Symphonic Band, conducted by Jerry Luckhardt at Ted Mann Concert Hall in Minneapoli, MN, February 2011.









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

Alex can tell the ensemble about how the piece was created and engage them in conversation, and even show them how her digital project studio works! It's also easy to arrange to have her say hello to the audience during a concert, via a custom video. Webhearsals connect musicians to the real person-- and the stories-- behind the notes on the music stands. Get in touch with Alex-- her contact info is at the bottom of this page.

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



Alex was an early adopter of online "webhearsals"! Here's one from December 2012 with Alex in her studio on Washington's San Juan Island, and band director Mary Bauer and the Mt. Mansfield Union High School Band far across the continent in Vermont.



Consortium partners:



The University of Minnesota was the lead organization in a consortium of U.S. schools that commissioned Alex to compose this multi-movement electroacoustic symphonic band work. Immersion had its first premiere in Minneapolis, MN on February 16 2011, by the University of Minnesota Symphonic Band, Jerry Luckhardt, conductor.


This premiere enjoyed a multimedia aspect as well, with video and lighting designed by Jay'd Hagberg. The second of the consortium premieres took place the following week on Feb. 23rd by the symphonic band at The Ohio State University, conducted by Milton Allen.


The consortium of commissioning partners included:




U of M




U Wisc at Whitewater

Encore Wind Ensemble








IMMERSION was commissioned by a consortium of partners:

Dr. Milton Allen, The Ohio State University
Dr. Tom Duffy, Yale University
Encore Wind Ensemble, Minneapolis, MN
Glenn C. Hayes, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Jerry Luckhardt, University of Minnesota
Steve Olsen, Rosemount High School, Rosemount, MN
Dr. Robert Taylor, University of British Columbia


First premiere February 16, 2011 by the University of Minnesota Symphonic Band, Jerry Luckhardt, conductor, Minneapolis, MN.

Second premiere, February 23, 2011 by The Ohio State University Symphonic Wind Band, Milt Allen, conductor, Columbus, OH.






Immersion flyer
Click here for a larger flyer more



Shapiro and Luckhardt
Alex Shapiro and conductor Jerry Luckhardt,
on the University of Minnesota TCF Bank stadium football field
during a marching band practice, October 2010.

Surface sketch
Alex Shapiro's initial sketch of "Immersion"
second mov't, "Surface"



Studio sunset. Photo by Alex Shapiro.
Sunset from the writing desk; Canada's Vancouver Island (L)
and Salt Spring Island (R).



The marching bass drums and toms can be substituted with concert drums. The composer wanted to bridge the two worlds just a little bit, and bring an aspect of the marching arts onto the concert stage. Want to see what five marching bass drums look like in the percussion section? Here's the setup from The Ohio State University premiere:



OSU marching drums

OSU marching drums



How did this mostly-chamber music composer get into writing for symphonic band? Listen to her describe how it happened, in this two-minute excerpt from an interview she gave to Carey Nadeau from the American Composers Forum:




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



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



UofM Immersion premiere
The premiere of "Immersion" at University of Minnesota,
Jerry Luckhardt, conducting.


Click here to listen to the February 2017 podcast interview Alex did with host Anthony Lanmanon his show 1 Track, in which she A/B'ed identical sections of BELOW, for contrabass flute, and its subsequent version for symphonic band, BENEATH -- the final movement of IMMERSION.
Click here to read the March 2019 write-up about Alex and IMMERSION penned by Hartwick College Conductor and Music Educator Andy Pease for Wind Band Literature.

Want to know how Alex found the perfect whale for this piece? Click here to read a short interview with her, on the blog The Natural World.



Contact info:



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


Email Alex!

All photographs by Alex Shapiro (which gives you some idea
of what inspires this music!).


Alex Shapiro at the Hal Leonard Booth at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago, December 2014. There's a lot more Shapiro band music to hear!

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

Shore. Photo by Alex Shapiro.


© 2000-2024 by Alex Shapiro. All rights reserved to design and content.