Weaving the World

About the project

Weaving the World is a 15-minute choral piece by composer Pamela J. Marshall with words by Janisse Ray. A small instrumental ensemble accompanies the chorus: piano, oboe and 2 to 3 percussionists. A consortium of choirs and choruses supported the creation of this work.


SATB chorus, piano, oboe, 2 percussion

15 minutes

Commissioned by
See consortium below

First performance
March 19 2006
Assabet Valley Mastersingers at St. Marks School, Southboro, Massachusetts

Text by
Environmental essayist Janisse Ray

Text, Program Notes

Weaving the World in the Spindrift Catalog
with links to scores and streaming audio


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.

Pamela Marshall prepared the text from an essay by writer and environmentalist Janisse Ray that appeared in Audubon Magazine in 2002. Ms. Ray approved the adaptation to poetic form and was excited about its use as a choral work. "Weaving the World" juxtaposes images about being in the heart of a southern swamp (Okeefenokee, one of her favorite locations), a peaceful and safe refuge, where "every night the spiders weave the world back together... Each new-made web shines gossamer in the new sun." These verses are juxtaposed with words about the mental anguish of war --"Somewhere/Someone is planning to kill/Someone has been killed/ Someone grieves/Someone hides in fear". The text ends with optimism and hope, that the forces that draw us together are stronger than the forces that pull us apart. It is a spiritual text, but not of a particular religion.

The choral parts are of medium difficulty. It is often tonal with harmonies anchored in tonal centers, and the melodies are flowing and lyrical and very singable.

Consortium for commissioning and performance

The consortium is a group of choruses and choirs who are supporting the creation of this work and presenting performances in 2005 or 2006. The composer is very appreciative of their support.

Consortium Members

First Parish Unitarian of Concord, Massachusetts, Beth Norton , Music Director

Unity Church Unitarian in St. Paul, Minnesota, Ruth Palmer, Music Director

Assabet Valley Mastersingers in Northboro, Massachusetts, Robert Eaton, Music Director

Premiere Performance

March 19 2006
Assabet Valley Mastersingers at St. Marks School, Southboro, Massachusetts Sunday 3:30pm

Before the concert, Gwyneth Walker, Janisse Ray, Pamela Marshall and Amy Beach (through an interpretive persona) joined director Robert Eaton to discuss the music