The IUP String Area is excited to host the first Crimson Hawks String Festival for alumni and high school students on Saturday, March 19, 2016. This one-day event will include string pedagogy sessions, Festival Orchestra and Cello Choir rehearsals for participants, and an informal recital featuring IUP faculty. The festival will feature special guest IUP alumnus Scott Laird and IUP faculty members Stanley Chepaitis and Linda Jennings.
The day will also showcase two regional violin makers—Robert Gordon and IUP alumnus John Thorell—who will have instruments for participants to play. The day will end with the Festival Concert featuring guests and participants. Although geared for IUP alumni and high school students, string players of all age and ability levels are welcome to attend the festival and explore the many facets of string playing. Registration Deadline: February 22, 2016. Please go to the IUP String Project for registration information.
Scott Laird is an instructor of Music and Fine Arts coordinator at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, where he directs the orchestra and teaches courses in recording technology, classical guitar and piano, and music history. A native of Indiana, Pa., he earned his BS in Music Education and his MA in Violin Performance from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He is an active string educator, performer, recording artist, and conductor. His orchestras have been recognized at the local, regional, and national level for their superior and musically mature performances.
Prior to his appointment to NCSSM in 2001, Laird was director of orchestras for Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Md. from 1992–2001 and the districtwide string teacher for the Palmyra, Pa. school district from 1986–92. Highlights of his years as orchestra director at ERHS include concert tours of Scotland in 1999 and the Yucatan Peninsula in 1997, a featured performance of Dave Brubeck’s Mass “To Hope” as part of the MENC 2000 National Conference in Washington, D.C., and numerous performances for dignitaries in the Washington, D.C. region. While in Palmyra, he founded the Palmyra Bluegrass String Camp, a camp to teach string players with classical backgrounds the fundamentals of bluegrass music.
He is a member of Music Educators National Conference and the American String Teachers Association. He served as chair of the North Carolina Music Educators’ Association Orchestra Division from 2006–08 and continues to play an active role in that organization. Additionally, he is past president of the NC Chapter of the American String Teachers’ Association and has served as chair of ASTA’s National Committee on School Orchestras and Strings and cochair of the 2013 ASTA National Solo Competition. He is a frequent presenter at ASTA’s national conferences, speaking on topics ranging from electric strings to traditional pedagogy to more philosophical sessions that deal with student motivation and curriculum. His blog, Thoughts of a String Educator, is popular among the string education community worldwide.
Laird is nationally visible as an education specialist for D'Addario Strings, NS Design Violins, and Coda Bows, where he is a noted as an authority on string education, electric and MIDI string instruments, and their applications in the classroom. He has conducted many high school and middle school orchestra festivals throughout the United States and is in demand as a guest conductor of honors youth orchestras. In recent years, he has conducted the Maryland, South Carolina, Indiana, Florida, Georgia, Vermont, and Colorado all-state orchestras. He has held summer faculty positions at Interlochen Summer Arts Academy, UNC School of the Arts, Lamar Stringfield String Camps at Meredith College, the Alaska String Camps, Arlington Echo String Camps, and others.
He is also an active adjudicator, having served as a judge for a variety of orchestra and solo and ensemble festivals throughout the United States. He has studied conducting with William Hudson of the Fairfax, Va. Symphony and the University of Maryland. Laird is the recipient of the 2015 NCSSM Excellence in Teaching Award and the 2010 NC School of Science and Math Award for Exceptional Contribution in Classroom Innovation. In addition, Laird is a founding board member for KidzNotes, a not-for-profit El Sistema USA organization that promotes classical, orchestral music training for children in Durham’s poorest neighborhoods.
Laird is an active electric violinist and recording artist and has appeared on the Motown, REX, and Roadrunner record labels. His latest solo CD, Simple Gifts, features his writing and performing on a variety of string instruments with an emphasis on the electric violin. He is also well known for his electric violin work with the thrash metal band Believer. The Gospel Music Association nominated their album Dimensions for a Dove Award in 1993. In 2007, Scott collaborated with Motown artist and former student Mya, writing and performing the orchestration on the song “Nothing at All.” He has shared the stage with other well-known artists, including Dave Brubeck, Lost in the Trees, Mike Marshall, Joey Calderazzo, Jon Metzger, and others. In his spare time, Laird enjoys a variety of activities, including camping, road and mountain biking, and writing. He, his wife, Barbra, and their sons, Matthew, Joseph, and Cael, reside in Durham, N.C.
Stanley Chepaitis holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree as well as the coveted performer’s certificate from the Eastman School of Music. He has studied violin with John Celentano, Renato Bonacini, Carroll Glenn, and Raphael Bronstien. He has studied jazz composition and improvisation with John Blake, Bill Dobbins, and Rayburn Wright. He currently chairs the string faculty at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and is first violinist of the Litton Quartet. His recent performances include recitals at the Eastman School’s Kilbourne Hall and at the academies of music in Zagreb, Croatia and Ljubliana, Slovenia. He has recently performed concerti with orchestra by Prokofiev, Dvorak, Beethoven, Bach, and Saint-Saens, as well as his own Paganini in the Vernacular for violin and orchestra.
Chepaitis has recorded three CDs of original works. His latest CD, Double Take, features works by Bach and Telemann alongside original jazz compositions based on those works. He has also recently released a recording of progressive rock compositions by heavy metal drummer Mike Barnett.
Chepaitis has created an innovative, holistic approach for teaching improvisation to string players of all ages and is much sought-after as a clinician. His recent clinics have taken him to Hannover, Germany; Michigan State University; Washington State University; Baldwin Wallace College in Cleveland; University of Ohio; University of Oregon; University of New Mexico; Eastern Washington University; Seattle; Wilmington, Del.; and the Pittsburgh Music Academy. He was a master clinician for the American String Teachers Association’s first Alternative Styles Conference and has since presented at ASTA conferences in Reno, Nevada and Kansas City, Detroit, Albuquerque, and Louisville, Ky.
Linda Jennings is associate professor of cello at Indiana University of Pennsylvania where she also directs the IUP Cello Choir and the IUP String Project. Jennings received her bachelor of music in cello performance at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She also holds a master of music in cello performance from the University of Southern California and a doctorate of music from the University of Texas at Austin. She has studied with cellists Geraldine Jennings, Janet Grieve, Parry Karp, Eleonore Schoenfeld, Uri Vardi, and Phyllis Young.
Jennings is active solo, chamber, and orchestra performer. She has played in orchestras throughout Texas, the Midwest, and Alaska and served as principal cellist for the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra, the Arctic Chamber Orchestra, and the Chamber Orchestra of the Alleghenies. In summer 2002, she was invited to serve as guest principal cellist of the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra in Thailand for the 70th birthday celebration of Thailand’s Queen Sirikit.
She has also appeared as soloist and chamber musician in concerts and festivals in the U.S., Mexico, France, Austria, Norway, Thailand, Indonesia, and Haiti. Currently, Jennings is a member of the Arcadia Trio and the Litton String Quartet, IUP’s faculty string quartet-in-residence. Jennings has also been invited to present master classes nationally in Wisconsin, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, and Oklahoma as well as internationally in Croatia, Thailand, and Haiti.
In addition to her performing and teaching career, Jennings is a strong proponent for string music education. From 1997–99, she served as director of the prestigious UT String Project, an internationally acclaimed teacher-training program for undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin. Currently, she directs a similar program, the IUP String Project, which she founded in 2004. The IUP String Project provides a comprehensive hands-on teacher string pedagogy program for IUP string majors and minors. In recent years, Jennings has been invited to teach and provide pedagogy training for music teachers in Haiti and Thailand. In 2014 she served as artistic director and guest artist for the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra Cello Festival and Chiang Rai Youth Orchestra Cello Festival, the first festivals of this kind in Thailand.
Department of Music