Kraig Stuart Michael Scott
Kraig Scott is professor of music at Walla
Walla University. An organist, harpsichordist, musicologist, and conductor, he
has taught there since 1986 and directed the choral program since 2009. He also
serves as minister of music and organist for the WWU Church and was music
director at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Walla Walla for eighteen years.
Kraig was born in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, and grew up in that area, the youngest of three children of dentist Kenneth Lee, a Canadian, and Myrna Mae Scott, a United States citizen. Music was an important part of life in their home, the family often waking to classical recordings chosen by Myrna, a singer in their church and member of the Handel Society chorus.
While Kraig's sister, Karen, and brother, Kenny, started piano lessons at age six, he started at age four, when he began playing by ear the music his older siblings were practicing. This led to lessons with their same teacher, Fern Treleaven of Surrey, and later with Audrey Mallinson in New Westminster.
After attending orchestra concerts where some of the older children from church were playing, Kraig begged his parents to let him start violin. He studied both violin and piano seriously for the next twelve years until he graduated from high school and entered college. His teenage music study was multi-faceted and enabled him to develop as both a performer and eventually a music scholar:
All of my violin lessons were with Douglas Stewart, who had an orchestra in which I also played. My piano and violin lessons were within the framework of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto system. The truly wonderful thing about that program is that you have to also take written exams in rudiments, music theory and harmony, counterpoint, form and analysis, and music history.
Scott earned an Associate Diploma in Piano, ARCT, from the Royal Conservatory of Toronto, Canada at age sixteen. He also had started organ lessons at age eleven with a local teacher and began playing in the New Westminster Seventh-day Adventist church. His sister’s matriculation at Walla Walla College offered his first experience with a large pipe organ. He was thirteen when he met Melvin West, then professor of organ at WWC:
I had grown up with West’s recording of hymn improvisations and really wanted to meet him. He was so gracious after I played for him and agreed to work with me. I had a lesson whenever we visited my sister, and about every two months we met in Seattle for additional lessons on the pipe organ at Green Lake SDA Church. My study with Melvin West was the starting point for my real interest in organ.
When I was fourteen I started accompanying the Handel Society chorus in Vancouver, where my mother was a soprano, and we enjoyed that together for many years. Shortly after getting my driver’s license I got the organist position at the Holy Rosary Cathedral [Catholic] in Vancouver, where I was able to combine my interests in organ music and choral accompaniment.
enrolling at Walla Walla College as a freshman, Scott studied piano with
Leonard Richter and organ with Lanny Collins for
three years and, during his senior year, with John Hamilton at the University
of Oregon. His background in academic music study allowed him to move directly
into advanced theory courses.
At graduation from Walla Walla College, now University, in 1984 with a B. Mus. Performance degree, he was offered an invitation to return to teach upon completion of an advanced degree. He and his bride, Julie Woods, chose to settle in Eugene Oregon, where they both earned master’s degrees at the University of Oregon, Kraig’s in early keyboard performance; he received merit scholarships for his work in harpsichord and organ with John Hamilton. He was also selected to be one of nine performers in a series of concerts dedicated to Hamilton when he retired at the end of his thirty-year career at UO.
After teaching at WWC for four years, Scott took a three-year study leave to attend Eastman School of Music, where he completed both an M.A. in musicology and a D.M.A. in organ performance and literature in 1993. At Eastman he received half-tuition merit scholarships from the organ and musicology departments and was the 1992 Jerald C. Graue Fellow in musicology, an annual Eastman award given for outstanding work in musicological research. He was also supported by WWC with the understanding that he would return to teach organ and music history.
At Eastman his performance teachers included David Craighead, Russell Saunders, and David Higgs (organ) and Arthur Haas of New York City (harpsichord). As a result of his degree recitals he was nominated for and received the coveted Performer’s Certificate. He recently talked about his time at Eastman and the stimulation and challenge it provided:
In retrospect, my years at Eastman were the
best years of my educational life. It was amazingly intense and wonderful. In
addition to studying with the most inspiring teachers one could have, my fellow
students, who were from around the world, were phenomenally gifted and
talented. The experience with Craighead, my primary teacher, was
life-changing. In addition to being an outstanding teacher and musician
with an unbelievable ear, he was an inspiring example of humility and Christianity,
a true gentleman, a person you wanted to emulate.
I studied flat out during those three years without a break. Unfortunately, because of that I didn’t travel much; I never made it to the Maritime Provinces for instance, but did enjoy the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Eastman was situated in a rundown, ugly part of Rochester and the weather was bad, so it meant there was only one thing to do and that was to practice and study.
Scott has given numerous recitals on organ and harpsichord in eleven states and ten countries, including the Dunblane Cathedral in Scotland, the Sejong Cultural Center in South Korea, and the universities of Oregon, Washington, Alberta, and Calgary, among many others.
He is an
acclaimed performer of Baroque music and has been featured in the annual Bach
recital on the Flentrop organ of St. Mark’s Cathedral
in Seattle and has given the opening recital of the Northwest Bach Festival in
A sensitive accompanist, he often collaborates with other musicians as organist, pianist, and harpsichordist. His skill at realizing figured bass keeps him busy performing baroque music with orchestras and soloists such as vocalist James Brown, cellist Marc Vanscheeuwijck, and harpsichordist Arthur Haas. He frequently performs with baroque flautist Janet See, including a collaboration with gambist Margriet Tindemans for the 2011 American Handel Festival. He has twice served as guest artist for the Idaho State University Baroque Festival, where he played continuo and also performed solo recitals.
Scott has presented lectures and master classes at many institutions, including Eastman School of Music, Rutgers University, Pacific Lutheran University, the University of Alberta, the University of Oregon, University of Calgary, and Westminster Choir College, and at many chapters of the American Guild of Organists.
Scott’s piano, organ, and harpsichord students have won numerous competitions and have appeared on NPR’s national program “From the Top.” They have been accepted with full scholarships to graduate programs such as the Juilliard School of Music, Yale Institute of Sacred Music, Eastman, and the Cleveland Institute.
Scott’s interest in conducting choirs began in 1985 during his time at the University of Oregon. His first choir at United Lutheran Church in Eugene, Oregon, led eventually to eighteen years as director of music at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Walla Walla. In the summer of 2006, he started graduate work in choral studies at Michigan State University and three years later was asked to lead the choirs of Walla Walla University. He recently observed,
Taking on choirs and getting graduate education in choral conducting has been a fun shift in the middle of my career. I am able to continue many things I enjoy, but also expand my skills and grow. In this instance a change has been as good as a rest. I love working with the students and have always loved choral literature.
The support from my departmental colleagues and from other choir directors has been amazing and humbling. In addition to my world-renowned choral professors at Michigan State University, David Rayl and Jonathan Reed, several other wonderful choir conductors have been especially generous. Richard Nance at Pacific Lutheran University and Steven Zork at Andrews University have been particularly helpful and supportive.
his direction since 2009, the WWU select choir, I Cantori,
has performed throughout the Northwest, in Oakland and Southern California, and
Hawaii. In November 2013, they released their first recording, Eternity
Scott received the Zapara Excellence in Teaching Award in 1989 and gave the Distinguished Faculty Lecture at WWU in 2002. In 2013 he was a featured presenter at the Walla Walla Adventist Forum on campus, where he spoke on “How Music Has Kept My Attention!”
His wife, Julie, who runs a leadership consultancy, completed her M.B.A. at the University of Rochester and a Ph.D. at the University of Washington. Together they regularly host students, musical ensembles, and out-of-town musical guests in their home, plan receptions at performance venues, and share the gift of music with a wide community. They have two sons, Alexander, a 2013 WWU history graduate now studying law at Gonzaga University in Spokane, and Andrew, class of 2014 at the United States Military Academy – West Point, majoring in history and French.
Sources: Interview, December 2013; Information on file in the Walla Walla University music department files, numerous articles in Opus, WWU music department’s newsletter, 1986-2000, 2010, 2011; program notes for recitals and concerts; personal knowledge.