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!
Violist Tanya Solomon was born in Geneva, Switzerland. She holds degrees from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music (BM) and Northwestern University (MM). Her teachers have included Michael Tseitlin, Jeffrey Irvine and Peter Slowik.
She was a member of the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas and the Chicago Civic Orchestra under such legendary conductors as Sir Georg Solti, Daniel Barenboim and Pierre Boulez. In 1995 she was a finalist in the William Primrose Competition, and during the latter half of the 1990's she was a frequent participant in the Spoleto Festivals of Italy and Charleston, South Carolina.
Tanya is a former principal violist of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, during which time she was on faculty at the University of Tennessee. Tanya and her husband violist Scott Slapin have performed together throughout the United States and South America as members of the Philadelphia Virtuosi, the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra (Brazil), the Louisville Orchestra and the Louisiana Philharmonic in New Orleans. They can be heard on their duo CD 'Sketches from the New World: American Viola Duos in the 21st Century' released August 2005 on the Eroica Classical Recordings label, hailed as "absolutely brilliant" in Strad Magazine.
Tanya and Scott were living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in August 2005. Within a month of the hurricane, they gave a benefit concert in conjunction with the New Jersey Youth Symphony to raise money for the Louisiana Philharmonic and the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra. They also played benefit concerts with the Louisiana Philharmonic in California, Nashville and New York City alongside the New York Philharmonic.
Tanya plays a viola made by the House of Weaver in Bethesda, Maryland. She is also a photographer.
The Journal of the American Viola Society Vol. 19 # 1 (March 2003)
Mr. Slapin...made the works sound like they were originally written for the viola. He has that dash and smoothness that many an older violist would envy...More power for the extraordinary musicianship of Scott Slapin. May his investigative talents present us with equal creativity in the near future.
American Record Guide (May-June 2000)
It is an impressive accomplishment to perform these works on the viola. The demands they make on the left hand are great enough when they are played on the more compact violin, but Slapin plays them with no sign of strain at all, perfect intonation...and a pure, unforced tone. I am mightily impressed.
J.S. Bach Home Page (December 2002)
This CD reaffirms my belief that many of the best recordings come from independent record labels... Slapin's sensitive interpretations are the reason for the success of this recording. The famous Chaconne from Partita No. 2 is extraordinary. It evokes emotion in a way that is not common for me; a truly remarkable interpretation. The articulation of the fast movements is excellent, his intonation is perfect and his use of dynamic variation on repeated phrases is a nice interpretive touch. This is a highly recommended recording that I hope many will discover and treasure, as I have.
Scott's performance is outstanding, and the interpretation is tasteful. I like this recording better than many of my violin versions.
CD Baby Oct. 2002
An absolutely stunning and gorgeous album of works for viola— breathtaking musicianship and emotional delivery, this is an album of remarkable stylistic diversity.
The New York Violist Dec. 2000/Jan. 2001
The Leclair Sonata No. 1 for 2 violas with Tanya Solomon on viola II has some wonderful sonorities…the Bach Suite no. 1 reveals a good sense of style…the Richard Lane (is) well played by the two performers (Ms. Rosenblum at the piano)...intriguing music for viola... we can look forward to more CDs from this talented artist in the future.
The Strad (Jan. 2000)
Slapin's Triptych is an enjoyable addition to the small repertoire for a trio of lower strings. It is beautifully written for the instruments, avoiding any impression of heaviness, and its witty finale, The Hassid and the Hayseed, cleverly combines American folk fiddle and klezmer elements.
The New York Violist (Nov. 1999)
This is an impressive set for the strong musicality of it all and the difficult music played so well... his sound is robust and resonant and the interpretations most musical. What... comes across is Mr. Slapin's ever-present musicality and his wide breadth of conceptions... These CDs contain many lovely moments.
The American Record Guide (March-April 2000)
Slapin has a rich resonant sound and phrases magisterially.
The New York Violist Nov. 1999
His own composition, 'Triptych' is a charming work, imbued with a string folk element and strong rhythmic dance-like features (these would be a delightful addition to any viola recital).
The Viola List
SCOTT AND TANYA ARE BACK!
I have just received the most recent CD of Scott Slapin and Tanya Solomon, violists, and am most happy to report that it is an exceptional and delightful offering of viola solo and duo music. It is titled: RECITAL ON THE ROAD/ WHAT WE DID ON OUR SUMMER EVACUATION. Scott's program notes speak of the genesis of this recording, done after their evacuation from their home in New Orleans and the Katrina disaster in the many months after they lost virtually everything they owned and picked up the pieces of their personal and musical lives.
As terrible as this experience must have been for Scott and Tanya, the results of this recording surely don't reflect any diminution of their outstanding talents. Those who know their previous CDs should expect the same high quality of viola playing and musicality and they will not be disappointed.
This potpourri of viola music includes:
Paul Hindemith's Sonata op. 25, no. 1 for solo viola
Antonio Barolomeo Bruni's Sonata No. 1 for 2 Violas
Niccolo Paganini's Caprice No. 3, arr. for viola
Joh. Seb. Bach's Allemande from the Suite No. 6
Alessandro Rolla's Duet in E flat for 2 Violas
Both Scott and Tanya sound wonderful here, their instruments very resonant and full. The technique is there in plenty for the more demanding music (Hindemith and Paganini), and the Bruni and Rolla duos are just wonderful. Rolla, who violists will know for his sound contributions to the viola repertory (concerti, solo works for viola and orchestra, many duos for violin and viola, mixed ensemble pieces with prominent viola parts, etc.) , wrote many duos for 2 violas. While some these Rolla viola duos border on the simplistic, this Duo in E flat is a substantial work, musically very rewarding and technically quite demanding.
Violists wishing to have a good piece for themselves, their students and for their viola duo libraries can obtain this Rolla duo from Fountain Park Music. See their web site.
This CD is EROICA CLASSICAL RECORDINGS JDT3265. You can go to the Eroica web site or Scott's and get more specific information about this CD.