Scott Slapin


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Scott Slapin performs as one half of the Slapin-Solomon Viola Duo (with his wife, Tanya Solomon), composes, and teaches violin and viola privately in South Hadley and Amherst, Massachusetts as well as worldwide via Skype. If you are interested in contacting Scott either about lessons or commissioning a work, please contact him here.  

Scott has written more than fifty original violacentric compositions, including solo works, duos, chamber music, string quartets, music 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 codified the first (and only true!) viola religion, Violacentrism. His music has been performed by hundreds of musicians in such halls and conservatories as Carnegie’s Weill Hall, the Royal College of Music, the San Francisco Conservatory, the Manhattan and Eastman Schools of Music as well as at international competitions/workshops including the ARD, Primrose, and Tertis.

To date, seven albums of Scott's chamber music have been recorded: A Day In the Life of a Freelance String Quartet performed by the Wistaria String Quartet (which you are currently listening to), 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, recorded by the Slapin-Solomon Viola Duo with family and friends. Scott can be heard performing his Elegy-Caprice and Nocturne (along with Tanya) in the final scenes of the award-winning docudrama Secret Life, Secret Death.

Scott's playing has received critical acclaim in such publications as the American Record Guide, Fanfare, Mundo Clásico, Musical Opinion, and Strad Magazine, among others, 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. He is the featured soloist for the first album produced by the American Viola Society, Premieres, which documents important, yet previously-unrecorded recital works for viola by 20th Century American composers, and he is 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, with twentieth-century violin virtuoso Ruggiero Ricci proclaiming, “Scott Slapin is great! It’s hard to imagine better performances.”

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Scott was born into a family of string players in New Jersey in 1974. He made his debut as a composer in the New Jersey State Theater with a twelve-minute orchestral piece written at the age of thirteen; the work was reviewed favorably in the New Jersey Star Ledger and other local papers and performed by several other orchestras in the state. Scott’s often-performed Nocturne is dedicated to the memory of his composition teacher, mentor, accompanist, and friend Richard Lane (1933-2004), and his 24 Etudes for beginning violinists or violists are dedicated to his first violin/viola teacher Barbara Barstow. Scott was commissioned by the American Viola Society to write the viola trio Capricious in memory of his final viola teacher Emanuel Vardi (1917-2011).

At age eighteen Scott was one of the youngest graduates in the history of the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, and he made his performing debut 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. During this time, he gave countless solo recitals, appeared as soloist with orchestras, and played chamber music with many of the excellent string players and pianists in the New York City area including musicians in the New York Philharmonic. In 1998 Scott became the first person to record the complete set of J.S. Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas on viola; excerpts of this album as well as several other out-of-print early recordings of solo works by Bach, Ernst, and Paganini have been re-released on the two volume set “The Fingerboard Less Traveled.” Scott's second complete recording of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas (Preludes, Dances, and Fugues originally released in 2006 on the Eroica label) is available digitally in its entirety, and he can also be heard playing Paganini Caprices on the soundtrack of the controversial Bolivian film Sirwiñakuy.

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Scott was commissioned to write the required unaccompanied work for the 2008 Primrose International Viola Competition resulting in Recitative, which has now served for several years as one of two audition pieces for the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble. He served on the committee for the inaugural International Maurice Gardner Composition Competition, co-premiering Rachel Matthew’s winning work at the 2010 International Viola Congress, and he is a former fellow at the Montalvo Arts Center in California. Scott's compositions are published by Violacentric Publications, Ourtext in London, Liben in Cincinnati, and the American Viola Society. For a complete list of Scott's available works, please visit the recordings/sheet music page.

As duo recitalists, Scott and Tanya won Best Chamber Performance of 2008 at New Orleans' Big Easy Entertainment Awards, and they have been guest artists at several international viola congresses. They have premiered and recorded viola duos by Gerald Busby, Robert Cobert, Richard Lane, Rachel Matthews, Patrick Neher, Frank Proto, and David Rimelis for the Eroica, Red Mark, AVS, and ISG labels. Scott and Tanya met touring as the viola section of the Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra and spent their first decade together performing in several symphony orchestras throughout the United States, sharing the stage and/or recording with such diverse artists as Yo-yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Leonidas Kavakos, James Galway, Lynn Harrell, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Dave Brubeck, Marvin Hamlisch, Smokey Robinson, Ben E. King, Dr. John, Randy Newman, and Itzhak Perlman with the New York Philharmonic. They toured South America with the São Paulo Symphony and became tenured members of the Louisiana Philharmonic in New Orleans, where they were living when Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005. (Click here for pictures of their former house.) Scott has also held contracts with the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras in Ohio and as principal violist with the Knoxville Symphony and Chamber Orchestras in Tennessee.

In 2017, Scott and Tanya brought together their experience from the orchestral world to create the one-of-a-kind duo album Great Symphonic Masterworks for Two Violas, which includes their own arrangements of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Rossini’s Overture to the Barber of Seville, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, and Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, minus all the band instruments. They have also arranged more than thirty-five of the most-requested Classical works for gigs in versions for viola duo, violin duo, and violin/viola duo, as well as a book of Christmas music (all available from Violacentric Publications.) For their most violacentric craziness, be sure to visit Scott and Tanya have been performing as a duo for nearly twenty years. 

Scott's viola and violin were made by Hiroshi Iizuka, and his bows are by John Clutterbuck and Samuel Kolstein.

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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

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

For more editorial reviews, click here.
Slapin masterclass at Hartt School of Music

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

Slapin masterclass at Penn State.

Scott working with the Penn State Viola Ensemble 
in preparation for a concert and recording of his compositions.

Slapin teaching a private lesson

Scott teaching a private violin lesson.