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Orchestra member William Stapp plays the viola, makes violins

November 15, 2007|By KATE COLEMAN

William Stapp is assistant principal violist with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra. He also plays "a lot of violin."

He knows the instrument inside and out. Stapp designs and makes violins in a studio in his home in Frederick, Md., where he and his wife, harpist Astrid Walschot-Stapp, live and teach.

Q: How long have you been playing the viola? When did you start? Why?

A: I started playing the violin when I was about 7 or 8. As a child, I was just fascinated by the beauty of string instruments. I switched to viola when I was in my undergrad (program) in college (at University of Alabama).

Q: How long have you played with the MSO?

A: I started in 2003.

Q: Do you play with other musical ensembles?

A: I play a lot of chamber music - with the faculty string group at Shepherd University - recently for the inauguration of the new president. At Hood College, with the Frederick Chorale. I play with the National Symphony and the Baltimore Symphony from time to time as a substitute.

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Q: How do you prepare for a concert? How much time do you spend preparing for each performance?

A: I like to start preparing about two weeks ahead. And depending on how well you are prepared, you could spend an hour a day for weeks preparing. At least that, maybe more.

Q: Do you practice every day? How long?

A: I try to stay in shape every day. At least 30 minutes ... I would say an hour.

Q: Do you have a day job?

A: I teach at Frederick Community College and also at Shepherd University, and I also have a large private studio, Catoctin Studio in Frederick. I really divide my time between performing, teaching and violin making, which I do pretty much in the summers. when I have more time.

Q: Compare playing in the MSO and under Elizabeth Schulze's baton to playing with other orchestras and conductors.

A: Elizabeth I think is a fantastic conductor and an asset to the community. I think we're lucky to have her.

Q: Who's your favorite composer? Do you have a favorite composition?

A: Each composer's different and depending on what kind of mood I'm in or what's going on in my life, I might change my opinion. It's hard for me to say favorite.

Q: What kinds of music do you listen to in your leisure time? What's the last CD you bought?

A: I really do like all kinds of music. I listen to everything. From jazz to country to popular - even Metallica has some amazing (music). I don't buy a lot of CDs. I think it was a piece I bought to help me prepare for a concert. Mendelssohn's "Elijah."

Q: What's your favorite "nonclassical" piece of music?

A: I love the "Orange Blossom Special," (but) I wouldn't call it my favorite piece.

Early Elvis, acoustic stuff. Roy Orbison. Really authentic, God-given talent that you can't teach. That's what draws me to different musical pieces and different genres - and actually different performers and composers too.

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