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The Future of Life by Dr. Edward O. Wilson is about the importance of preserving biodiversity — for many reasons, including because it is a refuge, for wildlife and for people.
The book is full of scientific detail, economic data, and case studies of successes and failures. So how does it become a text for singing? Dr. Wilson is passionate about his subject and the moral and spiritual aspects of our relationship to Nature are woven into the book too. I found many passages that I could alter slightly to make a settable text and I enjoyed crafting the selections to be succinct with all the passion preserved.
For this piece, I adapted his gentle, whimsical prose about spiders riding the wind to cross an ocean. Spiders get instructions on how to spin out a parachute and catch the wind. The trombone-and-piano introduction is lilting staccato and tenuto melodic fragments, my take on the texture of sounds in a meadow or forest.
How Spiders Came to Hawaii
Adapted from of “The Future of Life” by Edward O. Wilson, Chapter 3 Nature’s Last Stand. ©2002, published by Vintage Books, and used with his kind permission.
Stand tall on a leaf or twig
Spin silken strands out into a passing breeze
Let the threads grow and grow, longer, longer
Until you feel a tug
And sail upward
Ride the wind to anywhere
Read about my project writing my biodiversity oratorio The Future of Life.
This performance by the Master Singers of Lexington, MA is from the premiere of The Future of Life.