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 viola 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.
“If any contemporary violist continues to carry the torch of the composer-performer, it is Scott Slapin.”
-Journal of the American Viola Society
Compositions and Arrangements: Scott 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, a Four Seasons, 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. 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. Together with his wife, violist Tanya Solomon, he has 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. Scott and Tanya have also codified the first (and only true!) viola religion, Violacentrism.
Recordings: Many of Scott’s earlier chamber compositions can be heard on seven albums: A Day In the Life of a Freelance String Quartet performed by the Wistaria String Quartet, Hail, Cremonus! performed by the Penn State Viola Ensemble, as well as Reflection; All Viola, All the Time; Violacentrism, the Opera; Violacentric Sonatas; and A Fifth of Slapin, played by the Slapin-Solomon Viola Duo with family and friends. His Prelude is included on the French album ‘Viola Around the World’, and Scott can be heard performing his own Elegy-Caprice and Nocturne (along with Tanya) in the final scenes of the award-winning US docudrama Secret Life, Secret Death. Scott is the featured soloist for the first album produced by the American Viola Society Premieres and the first person to have recorded the complete Sonatas and Partitas of Bach on viola. His premiere recording of Frank Proto’s Soundscapes for Solo Viola received praise from the American and European press, along with an enthusiastic endorsement from twentieth-century violin virtuoso Ruggiero Ricci, and he can be heard playing Paganini Caprices on the soundtrack of the controversial Bolivian film Sirwiñakuy. Many of Scott’s early out-of-print recordings of virtuoso solo works by Bach, Paganini, and Ernst have been re-released digitally on the two-volume set “The Fingerboard Less Traveled”.
Scott was born into a family of musicians in New Jersey in 1974. He made his debut as a composer in the New Jersey State Theater to favorable reviews with an orchestral piece written at the age of thirteen. His often-performed Nocturne is dedicated to the memory of his composition teacher and mentor Richard Lane (1933-2004), and his 24 Etudes for beginning violinists or violists are dedicated to his first violin/viola teacher Barbara Barstow. From the age of twelve to eighteen he was the youngest student in the studio of viola virtuoso Emanuel Vardi's (1917-2011); Vardi and Slapin were among the first violists to play and record all 24 Paganini Caprices, and Scott’s viola trio Capricious, which quotes several Caprices, is dedicated to Vardi’s memory.
At eighteen, Scott 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 countless recitals and was a fellow at the Montalvo Arts Center in California. He held contracts with symphony orchestras from Cincinnati to São Paulo, playing in many alongside Tanya. They met touring with the Philadelphia Virtuosi and have together shared the stage with such notable musicians/ensembles as Itzhak Perlman, Leonidas Kavakos, Joshua Bell, Roberto Diaz, Lynn Harrell, Yo-yo Ma, James Galway, and the New York Philharmonic. Scott and Tanya have appeared at several international viola congresses and as duo recitalists won Best Chamber Performance of 2008 at the Big Easy Entertainment awards in New Orleans. Scott served on the committee for the inaugural Maurice Gardner Composition Competition, which identifies and promotes new works for the viola, and co-premiered Rachel Matthew’s winning work, Dreams, at the 2010 International Viola Congress in Cincinnati, OH.
Scott and Tanya live in South Hadley, Massachusetts. They teach violin and viola privately in South Hadley and Amherst, as well as worldwide via Skype. They have performed together as a duo for nearly twenty years. Scott plays a violin and viola by Hiroshi Iizuka with bows by John Clutterbuck and Samuel Kolstein.
“first rate viola virtuoso…” -Journal of the Canadian Viola Society
“instrumentista exceptional” -Mundo Clasico
“wonderful playing…sonorous and rich” -The New York Violist
“…great talent not only as a violist but as a composer” -Journal of the American Viola Society
“tonal and rhythmic command” -Strad Magazine
Scott and Tanya giving a class on the Bach Chaconne at the Lyra Festival and Workshop at Smith College.
Scott and Tanya showing the students at the Lyra Festival and Workshop their instruments made by Hiroshi Iizuka.
Scott demonstrating a Paganini caprice on the viola during a masterclass at the Hartt School of Music.
Scott working with the Penn State Viola Ensemble
in preparation for a concert and recording of his compositions.
Scott teaching a private violin lesson.
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.
Scott premiering Rachel Matthews’ Dreams at the 2010 Viola Congress in Cincinnati, OH (with composer).
(photo by Dwight Pounds)
Scott performing his own piece, Capricious, with Tanya Solomon and Ila Rondeau at the 2012 Viola Congress in Rochester, NY. (photo by Dwight Pounds)