From the Sydney University Wind Orchestra's
June 2017 concert review, in PULP:
"The most incredible sensory experience occurred before intermission with Alex Shapiro's Lights Out. As the lights dimmed, the musicians lit up with an array of lights covering everything from fingers, to mallets, to the conductor's baton. The crowd gasped, experiencing a collective sense of wonderment at the spectacle ignited by the fusion of light and sound."
Enjoy this video of the University of Memphis Symphonic Band
conducted by Armand Hall, performing the April 29, 2015 premiere
of LIGHTS OUT:
I suppose you could call LIGHTS OUT an "opto-physico-electro-acoustic" work for wind band, because it was conceived from the onset as a visual media piece. While it can be performed in any normal concert setting, it's most compelling when presented in the dark, slightly disorienting the audience and dazzling them with the beautiful colored aura from glowsticks, smart phones, and small LEDs placed inside the instruments and on the musicians' mallets and fingers. Mesmerizing!
Composing this piece, I treated the visuals and movement the same way I treat the audio track— as an equal and additional "section" in the band, organically incorporated into the piece just like the woodwinds, brass and percussion.
The physical and lighting aspects of the work were composed simultaneously with the music, and the score includes two additional staves devoted to movement and visual effects, leaving space on the score page for bands to add their own ideas as well.
Even before writing a single note of the score, I conducted Skype sessions with the majority of the 19 bands involved in the commissioning consortium, to elicit the musicians' creative ideas about what staging concepts might make a performance particularly unusual and engaging. Roughly 200 of these gems are published in the score, for bands around the world to use and be inspired by. A few screenshots from our sessions can be found on this page.
The indications for movement and lighting that found their way into the score due to this wonderful initial collaboration are a jumping off point for many other ideas, and I'm excited to discover what each ensemble is going to choose for their interpretation. I encourage every band to post their performance on YouTube, because each concert will be unique!
February 16, 2015
A Skype session with
the students of
Keystone School in LaGrange, OH.
THE LIVE RECORDING
A recording of the live performance by the University of Memphis Symphonic Band, conducted by Armand Hall, along with musicians from Central Washington University, directed by Paul Bain.
THE CONDUCTOR SCORE
LIGHTS OUT is available directly from this website as well as from Hal Leonard Corp and other retailers.
If you would like to see a perusal score, please email Alex for code access.
.pdf file of the TRANSPOSED CONDUCTOR SCORE
9 x 12; 44 pages including cover and notes.
Jim Horwich's Falmouth, Maine audience
got into the act, too!
Karen Seward's band at the Peabody Conservatory
in Baltimore, MD looked like fireflies!
THE TECHNICAL STUFF
Here's something VERY helpful: a complete guide to the software and hardware setup for your band room and performance venue.
A list of resources for finding inexpensive lighting and props is included with every score purchase!
You're invited to email Alex to share your suggestions for visuals and resources as well, by clicking this arrow:
A Skype session with
Armand Hall's students at
University of Memphis in Memphis, TN.
A view from the stage of Armand Hall's
with the University of Memphis Symphonic Band
in Memphis, TN.
Watch Scott Hook
Ankeny Centennial High School Wind Symphony
on February 26, 2018:
Here's the video of the North Polk High School Band
conducted by Melanie Spohnheimer,
at their band recruiting concert on March 6, 2017
(the crowd noise was encouraged,
we think they got some new band members):
Here's a virtual video of the York University Wind Symphony playing LIGHTS OUT, conducted by Pratik Gandhi, Summer 2021:
Watch conductor Fred McInnis with the BYU University Band
performing LIGHTS OUT, April 6, 2021:
Stephen Archinal is a film major at Ohio University,
and is also a musician in the University Band.
He's used his experience bringing LIGHTS OUT to life (and, light!)
as the subject for a 15 minute documentary.
Enjoy watching "how the sausage is made":
Here's a short video that includes excerpts
from some of the Skype sessions Alex did with
commissioning ensembles for LIGHTS OUT,
from her San Juan Island studio. CLICK to watch what it's like!
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.
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.
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 multimedia presentations she has given at The 2013 Midwest Clinic, the 2014 TMEA convention, and countless other seminars. It appears in the June and September 2014 issues of the magazine of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, WASBE World, and the .pdf is offered here with the very kind permission of the organization.
Here's a three-minute video featuring three of CSIC's recent high school commissions, including Alex Shapiro's 2013 CSIC commission, TIGHT SQUEEZE:
A Skype session with band director
Paul Kile and the students of Edina High School
in Edina, MN.
How a Skype session appears from the
band's perspective (here, at Edina High in MN).
A Skype session with
Wade Presley's students
Nevada High in Nevada, IA.
The view from the audience during
VERY best way to reach Alex is
through email, by clicking here
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!
This project was commissioned and overseen by Composers and Schools in Concert and its Executive Director Lisa Oman, who, along with Alex and her agent Mark Walker, formed this wonderful consortium of 19 commissioning schools participating from around the United States:
Arrowhead High School,
Stacey Zwirlein, Associate Director of Bands
Edina High School,
Paul Kile, Band Director
Falmouth High School,
Jim Horwich, Band Director
Kaufman High School,
John Mize, Director of Bands
Keystone High School,
Jackie Townsend, Director of Bands
Lafayette High School,
Scotty Walker, Director of Bands
Monticello High School,
Jim Davis, Director of Bands
New London-Spicer High School,
New London, MN;
Brian Pearson, Music Director
Nevada High School,
Wade Presley, Director of Bands
Olathe Northwest High School,
Robert Davis, Director of Bands
Owatonna High School,
Peter Guenther, Band Director
Karen Seward, Wind Band Conductor
Jay Gephart, Director of Bands
Rosemount High School,
Ben Harloff, Steve Olsen, Leon Sieve, Band Directors
Rockwood Summit High School,
Rebekah Long, Assistant Band Director
Ruston High School,
Walter Moss, Director of Bands
Southeastern Louisiana University,
Glen Hemberger, Director of Bands
Twin Valley High School,
Daniel Long, Music Director
University of Memphis,
Armand Hall, Associate Director of Bands
Jim Davis's band in Monticello, Iowa,
using flickering holiday lights along with LEDs.