Biography: Stanley Chepaitis
Stanley playing with Joe Venuti
Stanley Chepaitis' passion for jazz began when
he as a teenager, performing in the clubs of the New York Catskill Mountains.
Here Joe Cordato, his friend's father, offered the young Stanley a life changing
experience - he introduced Stanley to the music of Joe Venuti. Years later
in Rochester, Stanley walked up to Venuti and told the jazz legend "I wanna
be just like you" to which
Venuti responded "Let's see what you've got." At Venuti's request, Stanley
sat in with the band that night, and for the next two weeks of the tour. Here,
Stanley learned the love and sound of jazz.
When Stanley first arrived at the Eastman Conservatory
of Music, he didn't read music. Recognized his talent, Carroll Glenn
encouraged him to study
classical violin and after two years, Stanley traveled to Connecticut, winning
an audition to play in the Hartford Symphony. He also attended Hart College
of Music as a student of Renato Bonacini, receiving his bachelors degree,
and then returned to Eastman to further his classical education under violinists
John Celentano and Raphael Bronstein (in New York City), and to study improvisation
with Bill Dobbins. While teaching at Eastman's Hochstein School of Music,
Stanley met saxophonist John Vitali and later, when appointed to a one year
faculty position at Allegheny College, he learned from fellow faculty Floyd
Williams, drummer for Duke Ellington. After performing in a Suzuki Institute
in Michigan, he met pianist Tony Caramia, and soon he became a member of Caramia's
"dream group". With each new experience, Stanley immersed himself in the
language and vocabulary of jazz - studying, listening, performing.
Stanley won the position of concert master with the Arkansas Symphony, where
he played in local jazz clubs in Little Rock, and the desire to pen his own
compositions began. By now, he had created his own crossover style in
composition, and he was continuing to merge his violin expertise with his love of jazz
creating works for violin, string quartet, violin and piano duo, and other
combinations. In later years his string quartet Child's Play would win second
prize in a national contest, the MTNA Distinguished Composer Competition. He has
premiered his own music at the Pleshakov Music Center in Hudson, NY, the
University of Wisconsin, Bucknell University and composed the score to his own
ballet "Eyes of Notre Dame".
While achieving recognition as a violinist and composer, Stanley also felt a
passion for conducting. With presenting youth events a specialty, he has
conducted youth concerts with the Arkansas Symphony, numerous college orchestras,
and district and regional orchestras in the Mid Atlantic, Mid West, and North
West regions of the country. Additionally, he has conducted operas by Mozart (The Impressario), Menotti
(The Telephone), Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, and Mikado by Gilbert & Sullivan.
His international performances include engagements
at the Academy of Music in Zagreb, Croatia, the Academy of Music in Ljubljana,
Slovenia, and a special jazz program for an audience of German music teachers
at the Hoechschule
in Hanover, Germany. In the states, Stanley has presented
concerts at the Eastman School's Kilbourne Hall, Carnegie Mellon University,
and the Krannert Center, in Champagne, Illinois.
Continuing to create artistic opportunities, Stanley is a founding member of
the Litton Quartet and the Gorell Trio. He organizes regular performances of jazz, baroque, and classical music, often combining these genres in unusual new works.
Stanley has taught on the faculties of Central Michigan University, Allegheny
College, Hendricks College, and Indiana University of Pennsylvania where he
is currently Chair of the String Department. He lives with his wife, Swana,
and two children in rural Pennsylvania where he also tends a thriving organic
Stanley performs on an electric violin made by Tucker Barrett when he is not
playing his acoustic violin. For more on Barrett string instruments, visit
their website at www.tbviolins.com