Alex Shapiro (US) – Chord history
Alex Shapiro about her piano piece “Chord history”
“My friend, the superb pianist Susanne Kessel, shares something significant with one of our mutual muses, Ludwig van Beethoven: they both hail from Bonn, Germany. So what better way to compose an homage to this giant, than to ask the devoted pianist what some of her favourite Beethoven piano chords might be? I knew my own answer: the iconic, imposing, foreboding, C minor start to Sonata No. 8, Op. 13, the “Pathéthique.” My teenage hands passionately played each phrase thousands of times, and while poor Ludwig might have been rolling over in his grave (there’s a good reason I chose to compose rather than perform), the influence of his music in my life has been monumental. That chord, along with Susanne’s fine suggestions, are planted throughout this little offering. And thus, Beethoven, Kessel, and Shapiro have become bound for a brief and touching moment in this CHORD HISTORY.”
Piano piece “Chord history” – in concert:
29. Nov. 2014 – world premiere – Bonner Kunstverein – Susanne Kessel, piano
About Alex Shapiro (*1962)
Alex Shapiro composes genre-defying acoustic and electroacoustic pieces known for their lyricism and drama. Published by Activist Music, her works are heard daily in concerts and broadcasts across the U.S. and internationally, and can be found on over twenty commercially released recordings from around the world. Shapiro’s extensive catalog includes a wide array of solo, chamber ensemble, and symphonic wind band works, the latter of which often include striking visual and physical elements with the seamless melding of live and recorded sounds. While known for her innovative uses of technology, Ms. Shapiro is equally drawn to the opposite edge of the creative spectrum: the raw intimacy of writing for solo piano.
CHORD HISTORY is the third piece of Alex’s recorded by Susanne Kessel, and is among those explored in Dr. Elizabeth Etnoyer’s 2015 published dissertation, “The Keyboard Works of Alex Shapiro.” Ms. Shapiro is a strong advocate for other artists through her speaking appearances, writings, and volunteerism. She is the Symphonic and Concert music representative on the Board of Directors of ASCAP, and co-chairs the Program Council for New Music USA. Alex has also served on the boards of U.S. music organizations including The American Music Center, the American Composers Forum of Los Angeles, The MacDowell Colony, and The Society of Composers & Lyricists. Educated at The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music as a student of Ursula Mamlok and John Corigliano, Shapiro moved to Los Angeles in 1983. In 2007 she relocated to Washington State’s remote San Juan Island, and composes in a studio perched on the water’s edge, surrounded by wildlife. An award-winning nature photographer, Alex’s images and music can be experienced on her blog and her website.