His undergraduate studies were at Brown University (B.A. in music). His graduation thesis was a musical, Deep Freeze (1992) that was performed at the Leeds Theater in Providence, Rhode Island.
He entered undergraduate studies at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City, where he now lives. He studied with composers David Diamond and Ron Nelson. While still attending Juilliard he became the writer-in-residence in the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's Music Theater Festival of 1993. After he completed his master's degree in 1995, he entered and won the First Music Composition Competition of the New York Youth Symphony. The work was a flute concerto entitled Ophelia. It was premiered at Carnegie Hall in December, 1996 with Eugenia Zukerman. Critics noted his keen ear for orchestral colors.
He has also written a vocal/orchestral work, The Dreamful Heart (1995) the orchestral work Of Blood and Carnations (1997), and Three Songs for Spring for soprano and piano (1995), and a string quartet in 1994.
In 1997, he composed the score of Morgan J. Freeman's film Hurricane Streets, which won the Directing Award and the Audience Award at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival. Staying involved in independent film, he has also scored Safe Men (1998), Prince of Central Park (1999) starring Kathleen Turner, Harvey Keitel, and Danny Aiello, Restaurant (1999), On the Ropes (1999), and Six Ways to Sunday (1999). He also has composed for Comedy Central's "Viva Variety" and for MTV's sketch comedy "The State."
After a concert played by pianist Awadigin Pratt, Shapiro introduced himself, which led to Pratt commissioning him to write a piece for soprano, and piano quartet called City of Windows for the 1998 Next Generation Festival. The work was a great success, so Pratt invited Shapiro to write a concerto for piano and orchestra, which the composer named Avenues. Pratt played the premiere in November 1999 at the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. It calls for a standard orchestra plus saxophone, a large percussion section, and an offstage piano, and reflects the busy, noisy pace of life in New York City. The work has been scheduled by other symphonies in the United States.