Music Reviews


ON THIS DAY EARTH SHALL RING (Alfred, Grade 3): "...Modal sections contrast traditional tertian harmonies to provide a unique flavor to this concert opener. Woodwind flourishes add to the celebratory nature of the piece and will challenge your performer's technical abilities. Great start to a holiday concert!"

--Dr. Andrew Yozviak, PMEA News, Fall 2022

EXTRAORDINARY MACHINES OF CLOCKWORK AND STEAM (Alfred, Grade 3): "This imaginative commissioned work will be a memorable addition to any concert program...Expertly scored with engaging lines for each instrument and effective contrasts of mood, tempo, texture and dynamics, the piece includes bold melodic material, an attractive sonic palette that includes minor cabaret harmonies, toy percussion effects, and vocal steam sounds from wind players. This unique piece will be enjoyable for performers and listeners alike."

--Mark Hosler, The Instrumentalist, December 2019

EXTRAORDINARY MACHINES OF CLOCKWORK AND STEAM (Alfred, Grade 3): "The 'magical sounds of steampunk' serve as the basis for this imaginative work for concert band. Alternating sections of the piece depict the trial and error of invention through a quirky march, with heroic themes expressing the wonders of discovery, and the ultimate trill of invention. The percussion section provides strong support throughout and adds color to this exciting new work. It will be the piece your students tell their parents about as the concert approaches!"

--Dr. Andrew Yozviak, PMEA News, Fall 2019

BALKAN SEVEN (Alfred, Grade 3): "This attractive work gets its inspiration from the lively, often rhythmically asymmetric, dances of the Balkan region of Southwestern Europe...It is set in 7/8 (3+2+2) meter marked "Allegro" with occasional 4/4 measures mixed in. Following a four-measure percussion section introduction, the melody is first played by a woodwind trio of flute, oboe and clarinet. The percussion section has a special role in creating the feel of a rustic folk dance...Foot stomping and hand clapping both contribute to the folk dance will provide bountiful teaching and learning opportunities."

--John Thomson, The Instrumentalist, August 2018

BALKAN SEVEN (Alfred, Grade 3): "The 7/8 time signature achieves a consistent groove and the ethnic, modal themes vibrantly explode into major tutti shouts of exuberant joy. The ensemble contributes to the percussion scoring during a hand clapping section. A great study in cultural music from this part of the world!"

--Dr. Andrew Yozviak, PMEA News, Fall 2018

QUEEN MAB (Grade 5): "...this programmatic tone poem depicts the exploits of the 'queen of the fairies and stirrer of dreams' so memorably portrayed in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Themes that evoke a 'lullaby, magical flight, and nocturnal work' are ultimately woven together to present an enchantingly triumphant finale. Strong technique throughout the ensemble and rhythmic confidence will be important to a successful performance."

--Dr. Andy Yozviak, PMEA News, Spring 2017

AQUATICA (Alfred, Grade 4): "This engaging work...begins with a tranquil underwater section featuring solo oboe and the shimmering sounds of wind chimes...the piece abruptly moves to a spirited 6/8 section that suggests aquatic creatures and watercraft moving playfully through the waves. The piece then explores a variety of timbres and textures as it moves through a more contemplative passage before building to a rousing final section that ultimately slows and becomes quieter before ending with a broad, majestic conclusion. Creatively scored, this composition features melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic interest throughout...This is an interesting composition that would be a memorable addition to any program."

--Mark Hosler, The Instrumentalist, October 2014

NIGHT JOURNEY (Wingert-Jones, Grade 4): "This composition is a programmatic piece describing a nocturnal train ride through a stark and darkened landscape. It is easy to feel the building energy of the locomotive...There is a Native American flavor to the melodic content that also has blues and jazz references." 

--John Villella, PMEA News, Spring 2012

LION OF IRELAND (Alfred, Grade 3): "This colorful piece is based upon...Brian Boru's March. The original theme statement displays a bouncy 6/8 rendition of the modal melody. Once this is introduced, the work moves into free development of original material that displays traces of the folk tune. Much of the writing explores woodwind textures with the low brass making significant contributions." 

--Charles R. Groeling, The Instrumentalist, March 2012

AESOP'S FABLES (Alfred, Grade 5): "...musically depicts the four tales "The Hare and the Tortoise," "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," "The Dog and His Bone," and "The Wolf and His Shadow." The colorful percussion scoring requires at least seven players, including two mallet players on bells, vibes, and xylophone. This work could be performed well by high school, college, or community ensembles, but the piece is demanding for everyone and would be a good addition to a young person's program. 

--John Thomson, The Instrumentalist, Volume 60, Issue 8, 2006

FANTASY ON AN OLD ENGLISH AIR (Shawnee/Hal Leonard, Grade 4.5): " outstanding instrumental fantasia on the 18th-century tune, 'Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes.' The beautiful melodies and interesting harmonies use a variety of dynamics. The piece...has numerous opportunities for expressive playing." 

--Mark Hosler, The Instrumentalists, March 2004

CONCERTO FOR TRUMPET AND ORCHESTRA (Self-Published): "....invigorating."

--Peter Burwasser, The Philadelphia City Paper, October 25, 2001

HYMN AND DECLARATION (Self-Published): "Watson exhibited a great deal of skill in managing the resources of the orchestra. He knew how to produce interesting the context of a very well-crafted piece......he will very likely become a force to be reckoned with."

--Philip A. Metzger, The Morning Call, April 12, 2000

CONCERTO FOR TRUMPET AND ORCHESTRA (Self-Published): "....a distinctive composition that should prove challenging and absorbing for the performers, as well as interesting and captivating for the audience."

--Randy Grabowski, International Trumpet Guild Journal, January 2000

FANTASY ON AN OLD ENGLISH AIR (Shawnee/Hal Leonard, Grade 4.5): "Watson skillfully transforms his zest for life into his own brand of unique musical exuberance. His scoring for winds, brass, and percussion is excellent."

--Kenneth Laudermilch, PMEA News, September 1998

DARK CHASE (Trillenium Music Co.): "....written with supreme craft......Dark Chase is an excellent opener or an exciting show-piece in the center of a concert. Percussion ensemble conductors and performing musicians will find time spent on this piece very rewarding. A published edition will serve the musical community well."

--Cort McClaren, Percussive Notes, April 1993

AESOP'S FABLES (Alfred, Grade 5): "What a sheer delight ......Watson has taken four familiar episodes and brought them to life with narrator and a large wind ensemble instrumentation.......storylines and imaginitive musical interplay captivate children and adults alike. It is without a doubt the finest programmatic/narrative that we've ever come across for band. FOUR STARS!"

--Kenneth Laudermilch, PMEA News, November 1993


CELEBRATORY FANFARE (Alfred, Grade 1):  "Quarter- and 8th-note rhythms, supportive percussion parts, and responsible doublings make this a great consideration as a concert opener. Unison lines alternate with fully voiced sections to provide comfort and contrast...Smart writing will afford your students success."

--Dr. Andrew Yozviak, PMEA News, Winter 2023

KITCHEN MUSICIANS (Alfred, Grade 1):  "Cooked up with instruments found in the kitchen, this lively tune features members of the percussion section performing on pots and pans...A fun piece for the middle of your beginning band concert!"

--Dr. Andrew Yozviak, PMEA News, Winter 2021

GALLIARD (Alfred, Grade 2): "Composed to embrace the lively atmosphere of the style...bold tutti episodes are balanced against more transparent scoring that features various instrumental combinations. This fresh and inventive work will program well in a variety of circumstances and is rich with teaching and learning potential."

--John Thomson, The Instrumentalist, November 2019

DRAGONSHIP (Alfred, Grade 2): "This engaging programmatic composition conveys the mythical tale of a fearsome Norse warship...The warship slowly emerges from the mist during a soft, mysterious opening...the pace suddenly quickens as the drum beat calls the ship's oarsmen into action. The chase is on as the music builds to an energetic full-ensemble section...The piece includes attractive modal melodic material, inventive harmonies, and aggressive percussion writing...with interesting lines scored at a similar level for each instrument, the composition will be an enjoyable addition to any concert program."

--Mark Hosler, The Instrumentalist, May 2019

CELEBRATORY FANFARE (Alfred, Grade 1): "This original work is a festive concert opener marked “Allegro maestoso.” Fanfare gestures characterize the opening and closing episodes...while the middle section uses a call-and-response sequence...This short fanfare could work for a variety of concerts.”

--John Thomson, The Instrumentalist, August 2017

DER ERLKONIG (Alfred, Grade 2): "Johann Goethe's eighteenth century poem has once again stimulated the creative focus of a talented artist. Scott Watson's interpretation of this classic tale embodies all of the tension and anticipation of Schubert's classic art song in this original composition that will challenge and inspire your young band."

--Dr. Andy Yozviak, PMEA News, Winter 2015

EL CID (Alfred, Grade 1.5): "Scored in 3/4 meter, marked 'Allegro,' an infectious Spanish-flavored ostinato, grouped 3+3, 2+2+2, supports the main theme, which is first heard in the flutes. The colorful percussion scoring uses six players, including (2) timpani and bells, plus an essential tambourine part that contributes to the feel. This inviting work is best suited to second and third year players, but a successful performance will require close attention to the rhythmic and stylistic details."

--John Thomson, The Instrumentalist, November 2014

DORIAN HAIKU (Alfred, Grade 2): "This unique and interesting work follows the structure of the style of Japanese poetic verse known as 'Haiku,' grouped in three phrases: 5+7+5...Best suited to middle school learners, this thoughtful new work offers something fresh and different for a change-of-pace moment in your program, and it also will provide good teaching and learning opportunities."

--John Thomson, The Instrumentalist, Summer 2014

CONEY ISLAND RAG (Alfred, Grade 2): "Watson has captured the fun-filled sounds of early 19th-century amusement parks. The composition is set in rag style requiring the reading of syncopation and excellent chromatic writing that is level appropriate. The percussion parts add to the style of the piece and infuse a little fun for the audience." 

--John Villella, PMEA News, Spring 2014

CALL TO VALOR (Alfred, Grade 2): "The themes, displaying roots in the military tradition, especially bugle calls, include both rhythmic and ceremonial flair. A middle section brings these ideas forward in a slower, pensive lyric style before returning to a martial conclusion. All of these elements are held together by military-style drum elements. This piece would make an excellent program opener or closer." 

--Charles R. Groeling, The Instrumentalist, November 2012

JAMAICA ME CRAZY (Alfred, Grade 1.5): "...delightful Caribbean piece. The syncopated melody is fun to play and an easy way to develop good confidence with syncopation for young musicians." 

--John Villella, PMEA News, Winter 2011

TU UNGANE (Alfred, Grade 1.5): "Excellent melodic material and cool rhythmic grooves makes this a fun composition for musicians and audience alike." 

--John Villella, PMEA News, Winter 2010