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Filmmaker Q&A: About the Composers

The IN SEARCH OF THE GREAT SONG Documentary Trilogy, Produced for Song Without Borders by Michael and Doris Laesser Stillwater

A livestream discussion about all three films will be held on February 12 at 10 am PST. It will feature composers Morten Lauridsen and Alex Shapiro, the only cast members appearing in all three films, together with series creators Michael and Doris Laesser Stillwater. Audience interaction will be available during the livestream event by submitting a question or comment through the chat interface. To submit a question for consideration in advance of the event click HERE.


Morten Lauridsen

Morten Lauridsen is considered to be one of the greatest living choral composers and certainly one of the most frequently performed around the world. He is a recipient of the National Medal of Arts and was also named an 'American Choral Master' by the National Endowment for the Arts. He was composer-in-residence of the Los Angeles Master Chorale (1994–2001) and has been a professor of composition at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music for more than 40 years. Prior to moving to San Juan Island Lauridsen spent many summers on Waldron Island, where he composed what Brett Campbell (who writes about music for The Wall Street Journal and many other publications) has characterized as “some of the most poignant choral music of the last century.” Composer, performer and educator, Lauridsen has spent his lifetime listening in deep silence to the 'inner song', bringing forth choral works of radiant beauty for the world to hear and sing.

Alex Shapiro

Alex Shapiro (b. New York City, 1962) composes genre-blind acoustic and electroacoustic solo, chamber, choral, and symphonic pieces known for their lyricism and drama. Published by Activist Music LLC, her works are heard daily in concerts and broadcasts across the U.S. and internationally, and can be found on over thirty commercially released recordings from around the world. Shapiro is known for her seamless melding of live and recorded sounds that often include striking visual and physical elements, and for her innovative uses of technology throughout the composing, rehearsing, and performance of her music.

Ms. Shapiro is the Symphonic & Concert writer member on the Board of Directors of ASCAP, and a board member of the ASCAP Foundation. She also serves as a board member of The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and and is a former board member 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, Alex moved from Manhattan to Los Angeles in 1983, and in 2007 relocated to Washington State's remote San Juan Island, where she composes in a home 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,


The Friday Harbor Film Festival is delighted to present In Search of the Great Song, an extraordinary musical documentary series directed by Michael Stillwater and Co-Produced by Michael and Doris Laesser Stillwater who were inspired by their “dedication to the underlying source of music and song.” Watch on-demand February 1 through 17. Screen Individual movies for $3.95 or purchase a trilogy pass for $8.95.

Don't miss the free livestream filmmakers Q&A on Friday, Feb 12, 10am PST, featuring filmmakers Michael and Doris Laesser Stillwater and composers Morten Lauridsen and Alex Shapiro. Moderated by Composer-Pianist Grisha Krivchenia.

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