ENCHANTMENT: THREE MEDITATIONS FOR TWO PIANOS was written for pianist Lawrence Blind to celebrate the birth of his twins, Alexandra and William. Larry was my accompanist when I directed the Albuquerque Boy Choir. When I retired from the choir, his first child was “on the way,” so I wrote “Going Forth at Dawn with Power” to thank him for his years of service to the choir and to celebrate Wesley’s birth. I chose the title of the two-piano piece to reflect the enchantment Larry felt with his babies, and that I felt with nature at “Annacarla.”
That was the name that Dutch linguist, Elizabeth Willink gave her rambling adobe house near Cuba, New Mexico. In the late 70’s, she invited me to stay there on my trips to Chaco Canyon. Twenty-five years after “Willie’s” death, I bought the house and restored it as a composing and teaching retreat for myself and my students, and for other music students and guests who enjoy the scenic and spiritual landscape of northern New Mexico.
VOICES FROM CHACO: CONCERTINO FOR PIANO AND WOODWIND QUINTET won the 1980 Composer-of-the-Year Competition of the Music Teachers National Association. Dedicated to the memory of another pianist/friend, Paul Muench, the work was written to provide advanced pianists of high-school or college age with a solo work having an instrumental accompaniment of chamber proportions.
Centuries before Europeans came to North America, the Chacoans created beautiful cities, accurate solar/lunar markers, intricate artwork, straight roads, and a far-flung trade network. “Voices from Chaco” marked the beginning of my long fascination with these remarkable people. By “time-traveling” a thousand years to a civilization that seemed “at one” with the cosmos, I found a way to be positive in my work. There was also the tragic tone of a great people who dispersed, perhaps because of their overuse or misuse of the land (and maybe of their own power). Though we may never be certain of the reasons for Chaco’s abandonment, I sensed that the place held valuable lessons for us.
A LITTLE MAGIC was written for an outstanding new boychoir in Oakland, California, the Pacific Boychoir, founded and directed by Kevin Fox. The words were written by Peggy Pond Church, who was best-known for her book THE HOUSE AT OTOWI BRIDGE, excerpts from which I used as the narration for my orchestral suite, “Enchanted Land.” Peggy grew up on the beautiful mesas around what is now Los Alamos, New Mexico before her father’s boys’ school was chosen by the government as the site for atomic-weapon research.
Let me live keenly as a lark high-soaring
In one swift arc of song across the sky;
However brief let my flight be unswerving
And straight and high.
Let me increase as rivers do and gather
Wisdom from hills and every rooted tree;
Then let me go at last like quiet water
Toward the sea.
The black stone:
I carried it all the way up the mountain.
When I came down, a piece of the moon was shining in my pocket.
Those many shaped small smooth-polished pebbles
Have been waiting so long
For the ear that can hear
How they cry out.
The Pacific Boychoir Academy is one of the only full-time choir schools in the USA, and the only one on the West Coast. Continuum is a group of former boy choristers in grades 7-12 whose voices have changed. The Pacific Boychoir has appeared frequently with the San Francisco Symphony, and can be heard on the Grammy-winning recording of Mahler's Third Symphony with the SFS. The PBA has sung with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the Berkeley Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra of Brazil, the UC Davis Orchestra, the American Bach Soloists, and the Youth Orchestra of the Americas.
WORLD WORDS was written for the Albuquerque Boy Choir, directed by Ed Torrez, after my retirement as director. The words are paraphrased from the book “Worldwords” by Victor La Cerva MD, published by Heal Foundation Press.
I. Nasha hozho (Navajo: To walk in the Beauty way)
To walk in beauty
Is to know the goodness of all creation.
II. Kairos (Greek: Right timing/synchronicity)
Trust that part of you always knows when to listen,
That part of you always knows when to act.
Honor the knowing of the other way to listen.
Invite the rhapsody of committed surrender.
III. Mitakuye oyashin (Lakota: We are related to everyone and everything)
We walk through the earth with open eyes to be one with all that is.
We accept our humble place in this vast creation to honor kinship with all that lives.
O sacred candle of understanding, light our path; we are part of a great unfolding.
We are related to life around us; we are part of the life-force of all creation.
All things above us, all things below us, all honor kinship with all that lives.
We honor kinship with all that has life.
FOUR ZUNI-MOUNTAIN MINIATURES FOR CHAMBER ENSEMBLE was commissioned by the Ensemble of Santa Fe. This is a recording, made by musicologist Jack Loeffler, of the premiere performance in Santa Fe on March 3, 1985. My wife and I bought and fenced 20 acres of Zuni-Mountain land, to allow it to recover from years of overgrazing. I reveled in the beauty and used the piece as a kind of journal. Back in Albuquerque, I could recall the feel of the place in different seasons and at different times of day.
SANTA FE MAGIC is a tribute to the life and work of Peggy Pond Church, whose words I used in “Enchanted Land” and in the three short pieces for the Pacific Boychoir. After she had to leave “the hills” (see “A Little Magic” above), she lived and raised a family in Santa Fe. She had a keen eye for the beauty and sacredness of WILDNESS—whether in nature or in people, themselves a part of nature. And what she saw, she put into words—every day, in her journals and poems. She was a gifted and prolific poet. After her death, I chose these three poems from the unpublished writings I was shown by Peggy’s daughter, Kathleen, who narrates this recording, made by the Russian State Symphony Cinema Orchestra, conducted by Sergei Skripka:
I. October Sundown
Great clouds leap upward from the earth like flames
Into a cold, blue sky.
The mountains are a line of sharpened fire
Quenched at their lowest slope by a dim tide of twilight.
Golden leaves glimmer along pale rivers.
Dark birds fly soundlessly in and out of radiance.
Oh this is music written for the eye.
It vanishes beyond the first white stars
Like a chord held till the last echoes die
Into a waiting silence.
II. The Children
The children are going to school: rivulets of color and curls;
White shirts mother-ironed, the man-like tie; arms clutching books and bags.
They gather from all directions as though it had rained on the hills;
As though the rain had turned into children running downhill,
Streaming through arroyos to the river.
From the river they are caught like fish in a net,
Lifted and sorted to sit in even rows all day,
Being stuffed with learning, being caged and tamed.
How quiet the fields are; how quiet the houses.
All the human noise has gone downtown;
The birds and the trees have the world to themselves.
How long as it been since the children ran free on the hills?
A lifetime of journeying among these bare hills,
Past these escarpments, these wind and water sculptured sands.
Remembering how, a child at the edge of the ocean,
Watching the water slope back beneath the curved wave,
She cupped the glistening grains under her small hands,
Becoming a maker of what the sea would erase by morning.
Time has more time to play at making mountains.
There is no accounting, though, for this ecstasy of time past
That penetrates the present moment.
* * *
Born in Texas in 1947, Michael Mauldin moved to New Mexico in 1971 for “the space, the light, and the timelessness,” after completing a Bachelor of Music degree at Washburn University of Topeka. He completed a Master of Music degree at the University of New Mexico and served as president of the Albuquerque Music Teachers Association, the New Mexico Music Teachers Association and the New Mexico Composers Guild. He was named the national Composer of the Year in 1980 by the Music Teachers National Association, Teacher of the Year in 1984 by the New Mexico Music Teachers Association, and Private Teacher of the Year in 1996 by the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra. He served for seven years as Musical Director of the Albuquerque Boy Choir (of which his sons, Kendall and Kevin, are alumni), which grew to three choirs, 85 boys between the ages of 7 and17, who tour, record and proceed through a rigorous musicianship program. His choral compositions have sold thousands of copies in the USA, Europe and Australia. Mauldin has been an outspoken advocate for the rights of children, holding that discipline is more than repression, and that society is repaid when children and young people are treated with respect, participating in important decisions regarding their own minds, bodies and spirits.