Paul Patterson (Great Britain) is one of the most versatile, successful and internationally-respected British composers of his generation. His works are frequently performed by leading international orchestras, ensembles and soloists, and he also has a substantial discography. His composition style of challenging but idiomatic writing has resulted in many of his solo works have been chosen as set pieces for international competitions in Europe, Australia, Israel, Thailand and the USA. Patterson’s increasing international reputation as one of the foremost contemporary composers for the harp began with the popularity of Spiders. He has been invited to be the featured composer at the International Harp Congress in Hong Kong in 2017, his 70th birthday year. Patterson is Manson Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music and visiting professor at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. His awards include the Royal Philharmonic Society, Leslie Boosey Award (1996) in recognition of his service to British music and in 2010 he was awarded the Gold Medal from the Polish Ministry of Culture.
Scorpions (with stings in their tails) Opus 124 was commissioned by the American Harp Society for Duo Scorpio, two harpists born on the 5th November 1982 – and this date is the base of the main melodic line. The system he used to find and create this melody was to start on C the lowest note of the harp and give numbers from 1-12 to all the upward notes in the chromatic scale, so for example their birthday 5/11/1982 would produce the notes E Bb C Ab G Db The opening chord contains all 6 digits of their birthday, there is a strong element of dissonance giving the immediate sense of conflict and competition between the two scorpions whose space is being invaded by the other! The work starts with a fiery exchange of notes including many percussion effects, such as tapping the body of the instruments as if they were drums, plus clapping and stamping of the feet. The birthday motif is extended and passed around the players in aggressive ways as the conflict between the two harps develops and the use of pedal glissandi becomes a big feature. After an intensive series of interactive passages the turmoil subsides and the atmosphere becomes calmer as the scorpions start to relax and the birthday motif becomes more tranquil with the use of soothing chords, gentle harmonics and atmospheric glissandos. Following this with a few intrusions the energy gradually begins to build leading into a vigorous finale where the melody is transformed into a high-spirited toccata. Like all scorpions there is always a sting in their tail, as you will hear at the very end!