The Director Series

Filmmaker Q&A: In Search of the Great Song Trilogy

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Stream began February 12, 2021 6:00 PM UTC
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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.


Michael Stillwater is a filmmaker with a background in music, as composer, performer, and educator. He is founder of Inner Harmony and Song Without Borders, production agency for his filmmaking and a project of US nonprofit Living Bridges. Together with his wife, Doris Laesser Stillwater, he produced the documentary series (2012-2019) entitled In Search of the Great Song. Born in Washington, DC in 1953, he lived on the West Coast of the US until 2006, in Switzerland from 2006-2017, and now resides in Finland with his wife and film series co-producer, psychologist Doris Laesser Stillwater.

Doris Laesser Stillwater, co-producer of the In Search of the Great Song trilogy, is a licensed Psychologist, trained in Gestalt, Bodyoriented and Jungian Psychotherapy. She has provided therapy with a focus on Transpersonal Psychology and led retreats in Europe and America. She has extensively studied Tibetan Buddhism, which has substantially influenced her work. Together with Michael Stillwater and film composer Gary Malkin she is a co-creator of the landmark palliative care resource, Graceful Passages. 


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 aligns note after note with the hope that at least a few of them will actually sound good next to each other. Her persistence at this activity, as well as non-fiction music writing, public speaking, arts advocacy volunteerism, wildlife photography, and the shameless instigation of insufferable puns on Facebook, has led to a happy life. Drawing from a broad musical palette that giddily ignores genre, Alex's acoustic and electroacoustic works for small chamber groups and large ensembles are published by Activist Music LLC, performed and broadcast daily, and can be found on nearly thirty commercial releases from record labels 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 in her works.