Synchronization and mechanical rights are included free of charge for music educators and non-profit ensembles wishing to create a virtual recording and video of this piece, subject to written approval from Ms. Shapiro prior to publicly posting the media.
Pointillistic and "zappy," VIRAL is a fluttering, stuttering, energetic, percussively driven seven-part Rondo. The Washington State Ferry and the rhythms of its syncopated engines provides the basis of transportation, as contagious bursts of pitches fling themselves from different corners of the stage and speakers. Much like a virus, one group's outbursts attach themselves to another as droplets of notes are randomly spread — but instead of a lethal ending, this one is hopeful, insistent, and exuberant.
PROGRAM BIO for Alex Shapiro
Enjoy this video of The San José State University Wind Ensemble performing VIRAL on March 13, 2022 at the 2022 CBDNA Western/Northwestern Conference at University of Puget Sound, conducted by David Vickerman:
It is essential that the track volume be set to be as loud as the band. The track is an equal, additional "section" of the ensemble.
Short bursts of double tonguing are tossed around the ensemble, creating a feathered and flitting texture for a trailing effect. This staggered sound is forgiving: if anyone starts on the wrong 16th beat it shouldn't matter too much, as long as they remain metronomically glued to the tempo, and blend dynamically with the track to be part of the fabric of the harmonic shifts.
The success of VIRAL hinges on a seamless balance between the track and the ensemble, which serves as an additional set of colors and textures. The instruments should avoid sticking out from the ambience of the track until the A theme becomes major at measure 137, after which from there until the end, the band has a fuller presence.
Close attention to articulations and dynamics is essential for the music to make sense. Every gesture of repeated notes that includes a dynamic swell or diminuendo must be interpreted as written, and even over-emphasized. In most cases, the sharp nature of a quick "zap" is desired, very much like a sound effect.
It's vital for the ensemble to remain in extremely tight sync with the track, and stay on top of the tempo. For the majority of the piece, musicians should think absolutely metronomically, and throughout, they must watch the conductor like a hawk. If at all possible, it is highly recommended that the percussionists be outfitted with earbuds or in-ear monitors that play the click, because the live ensemble will hear these instruments louder than they will be able to hear the accompaniment track through the stage monitors.
Conductor note: don't get misled by the many syncopations in the track, some of which are so heavy they might be felt as downbeats. The TRACK stave of the score indicates the audible downbeats, and the click track will be a reliable guide, with accented downbeats on every measure. Additionally, there is an optional vox guide track that can play along with the click, in which the rehearsal measures are enunciated to indicate score position, to avoid becoming momentarily disoriented.
Zoom, Skype, 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 rehearsal and by the time it ends, is often remarkable.
Alex can tell the ensemble about how the piece they're playing 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.
best way to reach Alex Shapiro is
by clicking here
can also leave a voice message (or even a fax, if anyone faxes anymore) at:
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.
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, 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.