Scott Slapin's chamber compositions have been performed by hundreds of musicians throughout the Americas and Europe in venues ranging from Carnegie’s Weill Hall in New York City and the Royal College of Music in London to international competitions/workshops including the ARD, Primrose, and Tertis. His playing has received critical acclaim in the American Record Guide, Fanfare, Mundo Clásico, Musical Opinion, and Strad, and he has been profiled in the Journal of the American Viola Society, Strings Magazine, several dissertations, and radio programs throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Scott was born into a family of string players in New Jersey in 1974. He began violin lessons at the age of six with Barbara Barstow, studied composition with Richard Lane (1933-2004), and from twelve to eighteen was the youngest student in the studio of virtuoso violist Emanuel Vardi's (1917-2011). He made his debut as a composer in 1989 in the New Jersey State Theater to favorable reviews with an orchestral piece he wrote at the age of thirteen.
At eighteen he was one of the youngest graduates of the Manhattan School of Music, and he was performing daily as the solo violist in the 1992-1993 New York City production of Gerald Busby’s Orpheus In Love, a chamber opera about a viola-playing Orpheus; New York Times music critic Bernard Holland called the musicians “first rate”, and Scott was invited to premiere Busby's Muse for Solo Viola in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall. He gave many solo recitals, and some of his early, out-of-print recordings of solo recital music by Bach, Paganini, and Ernst (originally on the Eroica Classical Recordings label) are now available digitally on the two-volume set “The Fingerboard Less Traveled”. His first recording of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas (1998) was the first complete set of its kind ever made on viola.
To date, seven albums of Scott's chamber compositions have been recorded by the Wistaria String Quartet, the Penn State Viola Ensemble and the Slapin-Solomon Duo with family and friends. He has written more than fifty original violacentric compositions including (click on links for playlists at YouTube) solo works, duos, various chamber works, string quartets, various works for all-viola ensembles, an all-viola symphony, an all-viola opera, and a concerto for multiple violas and full symphonic orchestra. He has also written educational materials for beginning violin and viola players including 24 Etudes and 12 Divertimenti. His Elegy-Caprice and Nocturne can be heard in the final scenes of the award-winning US docudrama Secret Life, Secret Death, and his Prelude is included on the French album ‘Viola Around the World’. A former fellow at the Montalvo Arts Center in California, Scott was commissioned to write the required work for the 2008 Primrose International Viola Competition, Recitative, which has since served as one of two required works for the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, and he served on the committee for the inaugural Maurice Gardner Composition Competition, co-premiering Rachel Matthew’s winning work Dreams at the 2010 International Viola Congress.
Scott is the featured soloist for many premiere 20th and 21st Century viola recordings including the first album produced by the American Viola Society Premieres as well as two complete viola recordings of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas (1998 and 2006). He has performed as a chamber musician with many of the excellent string players and pianists in the greater NYC area and held contracts with all sorts of orchestras including the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops, the New Orleans-based Louisiana Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Virtuosi, and Brazil's flagship São Paulo Symphony, among others, playing in the last three alongside his wife, violist Tanya Solomon. His first orchestral position brought him to Knoxville, Tenn., where he was principal violist with the city's symphony and chamber orchestras. Together, Scott and Tanya have shared the stage (and in some cases recorded) with the New York Philharmonic, Randy Newman, Marvin Hamlisch, Smokey Robinson, Dave Brubeck, and Dr. John as well as internationally-known string players including Itzhak Perlman, Leonidas Kavakos, Joshua Bell, Roberto Diaz, Yo-yo Ma, and Lynn Harrell. They have recorded film and tv soundtracks for Lionsgate and ABC; Scott can be heard playing Paganini Caprices (on viola) on the soundtrack of the controversial Bolivian film Sirwiñakuy as well as an excerpt from Bach's First Partita on the soundtrack of the STV-BBC program The Women Who Went to War- A Great Adventure.
Over the span of nearly twenty years, Scott and Tanya have given countless duo recitals, premiering and recording new works by Gerald Busby, Robert Cobert, Richard Lane, Rachel Matthews, Patrick Neher, Frank Proto, and David Rimelis, appearing at several international viola congresses, and winning Best Chamber Performance of 2008 at the Big Easy Entertainment awards in New Orleans. They have arranged and recorded two-viola versions (minus the band instruments!) of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and more for the album Symphonic Masterworks. Other arrangements by the Slapin-Solomon Duo include The Big Gig Book, containing more than thirty-five of the most commonly-requested Classical compositions, and Twenty-Five Tunes for Twenty-Five Days of Christmas, both of which are available in versions for two violas, two violins, and violin-viola duo.
In 2012, Scott and Tanya settled in western Massachusetts. They teach violin and viola privately in South Hadley and Amherst as well as worldwide via Skype. Some of Scott's compositions inspired by western Massachusetts include The Sounds of Hampshire County, The South Hadley Mass, and The Four Seasons of New England. Before founding Pioneer Valley Strings in 2016, Scott taught privately and coached ensembles locally at the Williston-Northampton School, the Charlemont Academy, and Mount Holyoke College. He plays a violin and viola by Hiroshi Iizuka with bows by John Clutterbuck and Samuel Kolstein.