Scott Slapin was born in Newark, New Jersey on May 18, 1974. At the age of fourteen, he made his debut as a composer with an orchestral work in the New Jersey State Theater, favorably reviewed in the
New Jersey Star Ledger.
By eighteen he was one of the youngest graduates in the history of the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, where he studied viola with Emanuel Vardi. Other teachers have included Barbara Barstow and Sally Peck for viola and Richard Lane for composition.
He began his career as the on-stage solo violist in the New York City production of Gerald Busby's
Orpheus In Love (1992-1993), and the following year he was invited to give the premiere performance of Busby's
Muse for Solo Viola in Carnegie's Weill Hall.
Scott has given scores of solo recitals, and he has premiered and recorded works written for him by distinguished American composers including Gerald Busby, Richard Lane, Patrick Neher and Frank Proto. He is the first person to have recorded the complete cycle of J. S. Bach's
Unaccompanied Sonatas and Partitas for Violin on viola, a cycle which he rerecorded in 2006. His solo CDs have received critical acclaim in journals such as
The American Record Guide, Strad, Musical Opinion and Fanfare, as well as from legendary string virtuosi ranging from Gary Karr to Ruggiero Ricci.
Scott was commissioned to write the required solo piece for the 2008 International William Primrose Viola Competition. He has also written several chamber works featuring the viola, many of which can be heard on an Eroica Classical Recordings CD
Reflection, performed by members of the Slapin family.
Scott and his wife, violist Tanya Solomon, are former artists in residence at the Montalvo Arts Center in California, and they have performed together throughout the United States and South America. They have toured with the Philadelphia Virtuosi and have been members of the symphony orchestras in São Paulo (Brazil), Louisville and New Orleans, where they have been based since 2003.
Following Hurricane Katrina (2005), they participated in benefit concerts from California to New York City (with the New York Philharmonic), and they released a CD
Recital On The Road: What We Did On Our Summer Evacuation.
Scott and Tanya have premiered several new important works for the repertory for two violas, and they often perform together in recital. Their first orchestra positions were as principal violists of the Knoxville and Chattanooga Symphonies in eastern Tennessee, and their debut CD
Sketches from the New World: American Viola Duos in the 21st Century, was hailed as "absolutely brilliant" in Strad Magazine.
Scott plays a 'viola d'amore style' viola made by Hiroshi Iizuka. He is a member of the American Federation of Musicians (Local 174-496 New Orleans), the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) and the American Viola Society.
Visit his website at www.scottslapin.com
An Interview with Scott Slapin
Eroica: How did you begin creating music?
Scott: I began playing at the age of six. My mother made me(!) My parents (and many other relatives) are musicians.
I began to compose on my own around the age of eleven or so. For me it was maybe around the age of fourteen that I didn't need to be forced to practice the viola anymore. Ever since then I haven't been able to stop.
E: What musician or musicians have inspired you the most?
S: In person and on record: Emanuel Vardi and Gary Karr. On record: Jascha Heifetz, Nathan Milstein, David Oistrakh and William Primrose. This is the abridged list, of course.
E: How about other artists or authors?
S: The list would really be too long. . . perhaps I should mention Philip Roth's novels and Don Byron playing Klezmer music.
E: What do you want your music to communicate?
S: This of course depends upon the piece....In general, though, there is always a certain mood/emotion I am trying to impart to the listener. This could be anything ranging from the very profound and spiritual (The Bach Sonatas and Partitas for example) to the dramatic and emotional (Bloch's Prayer), to the absolutely silly and ridiculous (Ernst's Last Rose Variations on viola--or my own The Hassid and The Hayseed which combines Americana and Jewish folk music.)
Regarding the Ernst Variations on the Last Rose which is one of the most difficult pieces ever written for the violin, a couple people have said to me, "You know, that piece isn't really suited to the viola."
I then respond, "That's the whole point!"
Actually, it's not really suited to the violin either, but it's definitely not suited to the viola. What's fun about it is that it is a bunch of circus-like stunts on a simple tune which should shock and astound the audience and make them laugh a bit. (I feel that way about some of the Paganini Caprices on the viola as well.) I think some don't 'get it' because they expect everything only to be serious.
Classical music can (and should) convey the same range of emotions that are present in any other genre of music--and that are present in life (including even having a sense of humor at times).
Feel free to visit my website at: www.scottslapin.com and read all about it!