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Flinging notes through the air
Published 2/6/2013 6:00:00 AM
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Music notes are scrawled on a page. They’re unintelligible to the untrained eye, but to Alex Shapiro, they’re her life.

Shapiro is the guest composer for this year's Festival of Contemporary Art Music, hosted by the WSU School of Music. The festival features four events: the student composers'concert, the faculty composers' concert, the electroacoustic concert and the guest composer concert.

Composing has always been a part of Shapiro's life. When she was 15 years old she knew her path in life, she said.

“I began composing when I was very short, about 9 years old,” Shapiro said. “I grew up with parents who adored classical music, and recordings of great symphonies and chamber works played constantly in our Manhattan apartment, infusing my little brain.”

Shapiro strives to write pieces that resonate with her audience.

“For me, the point of composing is to communicate, and ideally, to reach people's hearts through mine,” she said. “I don't expect everyone to like every piece I've composed, but if at least one thing on the concert resonates with a listener and has improved their evening, then I'm very happy.”

Ryan Hare, an associate professor of music, said the festival celebrates modern classical music, like Shapiro’s works.

“With the increasing commercialization and modification of popular music, the impact and visibility of modern classical music is a little bit overshadowed,” he said.

Shapiro said she doesn't go to college campuses as often as she'd like.

“I really enjoy interacting with other musicians,” she said. “Especially those at an earlier point in their careers who deserve to hear encouraging, straightforward talks about the power they possess as artists.”

Shapiro will host a combination of workshops and classes during the festival.

“I'll have a very enjoyable combination of master classes, composition lessons, talks about the changing paradigm of our business as artists in the digital age and rehearsals with the musicians who are working so hard to fling my notes into the air,” she said.

Faculty and students will perform six of Shapiro’s own pieces during the festival, including the premiere of a piece she wrote with David Jarvis, a WSU professor.

“It's rather uncommon for composers to jointly create a concert work,” she said. “One sees this sort of thing mostly in popular music. Collaborating with Dave has been a total joy.”

The festival will kick off tomorrow with the student composers’ concert at 11 a.m. in Kimbrough Concert Hall. There will also be a faculty composers’ concert at 8 p.m. in the Bryan Hall Theatre. On Friday, the electroacoustic concert will start at 3:10 p.m. in Kimbrough Concert Hall. The festival will end Saturday with Shapiro’s concert at 8 p.m. in the Bryan Hall Theatre.

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