Spindrift Music Company
         38 Dexter Road
         Lexington, MA 02420
Press Release  February 22, 2006
Contact:  Pamela Marshall  pmarshall [ at ] spindrift.com

Assabet Valley Mastersingers Premiere Weaving the World by Local Composer

The Assabet Valley Mastersingers, led by music director Robert Eaton, will present their concert “Three New England Women of Song” on Sunday March 19, 2006, 3:30pm at St. Marks School, 25 Marlborough Road, Southborough, MA. Those who come early can hear a Meet the Composers panel with composers Pamela Marshall, Gwyneth Walker, and Amy Beach (represented by an interpretive persona) at 2:15.

Weaving the World, the newest piece on the program, was written by Lexington resident Pamela Marshall for chorus, oboe, piano, and percussion. A consortium of choruses supported the project, including the Adult Choir of First Parish in Concord directed by Elizabeth Norton, the Assabet Valley Mastersingers, and Unity Unitarian in St. Paul, Minnesota led by Ruth Palmer.

Collaborating with environmental essayist Janisse Ray

Ms. Marshall described how she found a special text for this music, “Starting around 2001, I wanted to create a big choral piece, but I didn’t have a text that expressed the right ideas. When I found an essay by Janisse Ray in the January 2002 issue Audubon Magazine, I knew right away that I had found my text. It was not a poem yet, but it was the perfect expression of natural beauty and emotion that I wanted to translate into music. The way she used words was poetry without the traditional structure. I restructured Ms. Ray’s phrases into a poem in an afternoon. Then it took me a while to discover how to contact Ms. Ray, but when I did, I was thrilled to get her enthusiastic endorsement of the project, which turned into this 15-minute choral piece titled Weaving the World.”

Ms. Ray, who lives in Vermont, will be at the concert too. “I’m really looking forward to meeting her,” states Ms. Marshall. “We’ve corresponded by mail and email about the project, but we’ve never met.”

Commissioning consortium

The next step was to interest choruses in the project. When Elizabeth Norton at First Parish in Concord, MA saw the text, it resonated with her too. The words were right in line with Unitarian Universalist ideas, she said. She was instrumental in putting Ms. Marshall in touch with Unity Unitarian in Minnesota. The connection to Assabet Valley Mastersingers came from another angle. The Mastersingers are based in Northboro, MA, which is where Ms. Marshall grew up. Her father sang in Mr. Eaton’s choir at Trinity Church, so the concert in March is a kind of homecoming.

Spiders, webs, peace, war

To describe any piece of music is hard, but it’s easier when it has a text. Ms. Marshall has written, “The theme of the work is the contrast between the natural places where our soul finds refuge and peace, and the knowledge of war, although far away, and its consequences. The music is joyful, spirited, at times prayerful, reflecting the lively soundscape of a swamp. The celebration of nature's beauty is contrasted with the distant drumbeat of war. Spiders and the connecting qualities of their webs are a central image.”

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About the Weaving the World project

Weaving the World in the Spindrift Music Catalog

About the Assabet Valley Mastersingers