Scott Slapin


Placeholder Picture
For program bios, click here.

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

Scott Slapin 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, along with an enthusiastic endorsement from twentieth-century violin virtuoso Ruggiero Ricci, and Scott 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”.

Placeholder Picture

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 to favorable reviews with an orchestral piece written at the age of thirteen. 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. From the age of twelve to eighteen, Scott was the youngest student in the studio of viola virtuoso Emanuel Vardi (1917-2011), and Scott’s viola trio Capricious, commissioned by the American Viola Society, is dedicated to Vardi’s memory. 

At eighteen, Scott was one of the youngest graduates in the history of the Manhattan School of Music, 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. Scott and Tanya played throughout the US and South America together as members of several  symphonic and chamber orchestras 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.

Placeholder Picture

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. Scott plays a viola and violin by Hiroshi Iizuka with bows by John Clutterbuck and Samuel Kolstein. Before settling in western Massachusetts, Scott and Tanya made their home for nearly a decade in New Orleans, Louisiana. They have performed together as a duo for nearly twenty years and have made many recordings and arrangements. They teach violin and viola privately in South Hadley and Amherst, Massachusetts as well as worldwide via Skype.

Placeholder Picture

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.