Spiders, Opus 48

I. Dancing White Lady
II. Red Backed Spider
III. Black Widow
IV. Tarantula

    

Spiders was first performed by Sioned Williams in London at the Wigmore Hall in 1985. No doubt when hearing this piece all sorts of images will be conjured up of the enchanting world of the spider. The very sight of the harp strings always reminds me of a spider’s web and perhaps the harpist hands and fingers could be likened to that of the spider weaving a complicated web. The idea to write a work called Spiders came to me after a visit to Australia where a great variety of spiders are to be found in abundance, and where incidentally I was almost bitten by a Red Backed! Whose favourite spot is to wait under the toilet seat! The movements are named after four of the most deadly spiders! The "Dancing White Lady" is a fast 7/8 movement with lots of crossed rhythms where the sight of legs flying in all directions could be visualised. Sharp irregular motives represent the "Red Backed Spider" who sits patiently for its prey before it strikes with great speed. In the "Black Widow" movement we enter the mysterious world of timelessness as the spider relentlessly weaves its web. The last movement a tarantella is a wild Neapolitan dance in triple time; It is believed to take its name from the "Tarantula" whose poisonous bite is said causes a "hysterical impulse to dance"!

Videos:

Short documentary with harpist Keziah Thomas and interviews with Paul Patterson, filmed by John C. Swanson:

 

Olga Shevelevich performs Spiders at the USA International Harp Competition, 1995.