Scott Slapin

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If any contemporary violist continues to carry the torch of the composer-performer, it is Scott Slapin.”  -Journal of the American Viola Society

Slapin’s magnificient playing says ‘Bring it on!’” -Fanfare

Scott Slapin is great!” -Ruggiero Ricci

well-designed music…emotionally expressive and varied” -New Jersey Star Ledger

The virtuosity and musicality of Scott Slapin’s performances…surely cannot be improved upon.” -Musical Opinion

Slapin is a real viola virtuoso…-American Record Guide

You are currently listening to Scott Slapin’s Adagio,
performed by Scott Slapin, Tanya Solomon, Greg Diehl, and Kaila Graef.
Click here to see more than 75 additional videos of Scott Slapin’s compositions and playing at YouTube.


For program-length bios and program notes, click here.
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Scott Slapin is best known as the composer of eight albums of violacentric chamber music and the first person to have recorded the complete cycle of J.S. Bach's Solo Sonatas and Partitas on viola.

His compositions have been performed by hundreds of musicians in concert halls throughout the Americas and Europe; at international competitions/workshops including the ARD, Primrose, and Tertis; and on recordings by the Wistaria String Quartet, the Penn State Viola Ensemble, Viola Around the World, and the Slapin-Solomon Duo with family and friends. They take in (click on links for playlists at YouTube) solo viola works, viola duos, various chamber works, string quartets, works for all-viola ensembles, an all-viola symphony, an all-viola opera, a concerto for multiple violas and full symphonic orchestra and two books of educational materials for beginning upper string players: 24 Etudes and 12 Divertimenti.

Scott's solo playing has received critical acclaim in the American Record Guide, Fanfare, Mundo Clásico, Musical Opinion, and Strad, among others, and he has been profiled in the Journal of the American Viola Society, Strings, several dissertations, and radio programs thoughout the US and abroad. He is the featured soloist for many premiere recordings by 20th and 21st Century composers including the first album produced by the American Viola Society, Premieres. He maintains a private teaching studio (violin, viola, and composition) in western Massachusetts as well as worldwide via Skype. He plays instruments by Hiroshi Iizuka.

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Scott was born into a family of string players in 1974 and began violin and viola lessons with Barbara Barstow. At eighteen, he was one of the youngest graduates in the history of the Manhattan School of Music, where he was the youngest student in the studio of viola virtuoso Emanuel Vardi's (1917-2011). Scott studied composition with Richard Lane (1933-2004) and made his debut as a composer to critical acclaim in 1989 with an orchestral work in the State Theater of his native New Jersey.

He began his performing career 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 countless recitals, soloed with orchestras, and performed as a chamber musician with many of the excellent string players and pianists in the greater NYC area. Having performed the Bach Sonatas and Partitas extensively in recital, in 1998 Scott became the first person to record the complete cycle on viola, which he recorded for a second time in 2006.

During their first decade together, Scott and his wife violist Tanya Solomon played throughout North and South America as members of many orchestras, sharing the stage with Classical greats including Itzhak Perlman, Leonidas Kavakos, Joshua Bell, Roberto Diaz, Yo-yo Ma, Lynn Harrell, and the New York Philharmonic in such halls as Avery Fisher (New York City), Sala São Paulo (Brazil), and Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires). They also recorded film and tv soundtracks for Lionsgate and ABC and can be heard playing excerpts of Scott’s Nocturne and Elegy-Caprice in the final scenes of the award-winning US docudrama Secret Life, Secret Death. Scott can be heard playing Paganini Caprices on viola on the soundtrack of the controversial Bolivian film Sirwiñakuy as well as an excerpt of Bach’s First Partita (also on viola) during the STV-BBC program The Women Who Went to War- a Great Adventure; many of his early, out-of-print recordings of virtuoso solo music by Bach, Paganini, and Ernst on viola (originally on the Eroica Classical Recordings label) have been rereleased digitally on the two-volume set “The Fingerboard Less Traveled”.

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Scott and Tanya have performed together for more than twenty years as the award-winning Slapin-Solomon Viola Duo. They played at several international viola congresses and won Best Chamber Performance of 2008 at the Big Easy Entertainment Awards in New Orleans. They have premiered and recorded new viola duos by Gerald Busby, Robert Cobert, Richard Lane, Rachel Matthews, Patrick Neher, Frank Proto, and David Rimelis and 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 currently available in versions for two violas, two violins, and violin-viola duo, and are coming soon in versions for violin-cello and viola-cello.

Some of Scott's compositions inspired by western Massachusetts include The Four Seasons of New England, The South Hadley Mass, and The Sounds of Hampshire County, which can be heard in this video about Hampshire County, Mass. 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 served for many years as an audition piece for the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, and he was commissioned by the American Viola Society to write the often-performed viola trio Capricious. He served on the committee for the inaugural Maurice Gardner Composition Competition, which identifies and promotes new works for viola, co-premiering Rachel Matthews’ winning work Dreams at the 2010 International Viola Congress. He recently wrote Fanfare Under the Sunsphere for the 2020 American Viola Society Festival.

…great talent not only as a violist but as a composer” -Journal of the American Viola Society

Quite impressive… the work was well stated and at times very moving.” -The Home News (NJ)

first rate viola virtuoso…” -Journal of the Canadian Viola Society

instrumentista exceptional” -Mundo Clasico

wonderful playing… sonorous and rich” -The New York Violist

tonal and rhythmic command” -Strad Magazine

Slapin’s…Nocturne is a soulful, sad, and moving piece in the vein of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings.” -All Music Guide

For more editorial reviews, click here.
Slapin, Solomon, and Rondeau performing at the 2012 Viola Congress

Scott demonstrating a Paganini Caprice on
the viola during a masterclass at the
Hartt School of Music.

Composers Forum at 2008 Viola Congress

Scott and Tanya giving a class on the
Bach Chaconne at the Lyra Festival and
Workshop at Smith College.

Slapin premiering Rachel Matthews’ Dreams at 2010 Viola Congress.

The Slapin-Solomon Duo premiering Scott’s 
Four Seasons of New England at the
Gaylord Library in South Hadley, MA.

Slapin, Solomon, and Rondeau performing at the 2012 Viola Congress

Scott performing his own piece, Capricious, with Tanya Solomon and Ila Rondeau at the 2012 Viola Congress in Rochester, NY. (photo by Dwight Pounds)

Composers Forum at 2008 Viola Congress

Composers Forum at the 2008 Viola Congress in Tempe, AZ. From left to right: Moderator James DeMars and composers Scott Slapin, Bruce E. Miller, and Kenji Bunch. 

Slapin premiering Rachel Matthews’ Dreams at 2010 Viola Congress.

Scott premiering Rachel Matthews’ Dreams at the 2010 Viola Congress in Cincinnati, OH (with composer).
(photo by Dwight Pounds)

Slapin, Solomon, and Rondeau performing at the 2012 Viola Congress

The Wistaria String Quartet recording an album of
Scott’s music.

Composers Forum at 2008 Viola Congress

Scott at Penn State coaching the viola ensemble, giving a masterclass, and playing a recital. 

Slapin premiering Rachel Matthews’ Dreams at 2010 Viola Congress.

A recital at the Williston Northampton
School where Scott taught violin and viola and
coached the ensemble.

Slapin, Solomon, and Rondeau performing at the 2012 Viola Congress

Slapin on the campus of Mt. Holyoke College where he taught viola and coached chamber music.

Composers Forum at 2008 Viola Congress

Scott recording one of Frank Proto’s Soundscapes
in Cincinnati, OH. 

Slapin premiering Rachel Matthews’ Dreams at 2010 Viola Congress.

Performing Elliot Corner’s Energico for solo viola
in Amherst, MA.

Photos by Tanya Solomon, Dwight Pounds, and John Anz.