Scott Slapin

BIO


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Scott’s compositions have 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 including the ARD, Primrose, and Tertis. His viola playing has received critical acclaim in such publications as the American Record Guide, Fanfare, Mundo Clasico, 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.

Scott and his wife, violist Tanya Solomon, have recorded five albums of Scott’s violacentric recital compositions with friends and family. Two new albums of Scott’s music are planned for 2017; one featuring his music for string quartet with the Wistaria String Quartet and one comprising Scott’s violacentric works for larger ensembles with the Penn State Viola Ensemble and the Serenata Orchestra. Among several innovative recordings of the music of other composers, Scott is the first person to have recorded the complete set of J.S. Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas on viola, and he is the featured soloist for the first album produced by the American Viola Society, Premieres, which includes previously unrecorded violacentric works by 20th Century American composers. 

Scott was commissioned to write the required piece for the 2008 Primrose International Viola Competition (currently one of two audition pieces for the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble), and 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. He can be heard performing his Elegy-Caprice and Nocturne (with Tanya) in the final scenes of the award-winning docudrama Secret Life, Secret Death, and he can be heard playing Paganini Caprices on the soundtrack of the controversial Bolivian film, Sirwinaquy. He has also written educational materials for beginning string players including 24 Etudes and 12 Divertimenti, which can be played as duos with the teacher at the lesson.

Scott was born into a family of musicians in New Jersey in 1974 and began violin, viola, and composition lessons at an early age. As a composer he made his debut in the New Jersey State Theater with an orchestral work written at the age of thirteen. The twelve-minute composition was reviewed favorably in the New Jersey Star Ledger and other local papers and received multiple performances by other orchestras in the state. He made his perfoming 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.

At eighteen Scott was one of the youngest graduates in the history of the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with viola virtuoso Emanuel Vardi (1917-2011). After Vardi’s death, the American Viola Society commissioned Scott to write the viola trio Capricious. Scott’s popular Nocturne is dedicated to his composition teacher and mentor Richard Lane (1933-2004), and his 24 Etudes, available in editions for violin or viola, were written in honor of his first violin and viola teacher Barbara Barstow.

As duo recitalists Scott and Tanya have been guest artists at several international viola congresses, and they won Best Chamber Music Performance of 2008 at the Big Easy Entertainment Awards in New Orleans. They have been performing together as a duo for more than fifteen years, and their recordings, including premieres by Gerald Busby, Robert Cobert, Richard Lane, Rachel Matthews, Patrick Neher, Frank Proto, and David Rimelis, are available on the Eroica, Red Mark, AVS, and ISG labels.

Scott and Tanya met touring as the viola section of the Philadelphia Virtuosi and spent the next decade performing together in symphony orchestras from New Orleans to São Paulo, 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. 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. He is a former fellow at the Montalvo Arts Center in California.

Scott maintains violin and viola teaching studios in South Hadley and Amherst, Massachusetts as well as worldwide online via Skype. He has taught via Skype on five continents. For more information, please visit violaduo.com. Scott's compositions are published by Violacentric Publications, Ourtext in London, Liben in Cincinnati, and the American Viola Society. His viola and violin were made by Hiroshi Iizuka, and his bows are by John Clutterbuck and Samuel Kolstein.

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Slapin masterclass at Hartt School of Music

Scott demonstrating a Paganini caprice 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 recording of his compositions.

Slapin teaching a private lesson

Scott teaching a private lesson.