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Eric James Watson

One of Singapore’s notable musicians, Eric James Watson was born in the UK and he moved to Singapore in 1994. Awarded the Ricordi prize, he is an established composer, conductor, music technologist and pedagogue. Eric was recently awarded the Cultural Medallion, the highest state award for the arts in Singapore, in 2019.

His output is extensive, working in the genres of opera, musical theatre, film and television, and he has also written scores in many diverse genres including Electro-Acoustic music, Gamelan and Chinese Orchestra.

In 2001, Eric was the composer and musical director for the Singapore National Day Parade, for which he recorded an orchestral score with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. And again in 2007, he wrote and arranged orchestral music for National Day, this time with four different orchestras - the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Chinese Orchestra, an Indian ensemble as well as a Malay ensemble.

In 2008, Eric was awarded first prize in the Singapore Chinese Orchestra International Composition Competition for his work, “Tapestries I - Time Dances”. In 2011, he wrote the first-prize winning piece “Aftermath” and in 2013, “Nebulae” for the Singapore Piano and Violin Competition. He has also written the musical, ‘A River In Time’ in which he achieved a fusion of Western Orchestra, Gamelan and a small Chinese Orchestra, as well as a second musical, “Land of A Thousand Dreams”. Numerous other works include “Singapura”, a set of orchestra variations based on the local melody of the same name; “The Wind” for Symphonic Band and Chorus; “Samarkand”, a concert march for symphonic band; “Concerto for Chinese Orchestra and Tabla” and “Songs of the North”, a Concerto Grosso for Chinese Orchestra, Fiddle, English Concertina, Pipa and Dizi; “Tapestries II - The Land Beneath the Wind” for Chinese Orchestra; “The Golden Orb” for Harp Ensemble; and a short symphonic piece “Intersections” written for the 'The Orchestra of the Musicmakers'.

Eric has a long teaching career since the 1970s where he has taught at various institutions such as the Central School of Speech & Drama, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), Urdang Dance Academy and Arts Educational School in London, UK, as well as LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts in Singapore. He is currently Senior Teaching Fellow at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and in his pedagogical work, he takes a special interest in teaching both classical and contemporary orchestration, composition, jazz and improvisational techniques.

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