William Moylan: Origins

William Moylan

William Moylan



The Stolen Child

Mother Earth: Her Whales

Jean Danton, soprano


Origins is about returning to beginnings. In many ways Origins represents the closing of a circle that brings me back to the beginnings of my musical career and my first musical compositions. I remember discovering that writing music could emerge from the center of one's core, early in my career. During the process of maturing, learning one's craft, and engaging the conscious mind's desire to forge a unique musical voice, the tendency to look inward and engage one's innate musicality can easily be lost. I have returned to this way of writing that flows comfortably and naturally, and speaks from a voice deep within. It now contains styles and languages enhanced by so many experiences along my career, with something familiar to my earliest works.

The compositions also speak to beginnings: to the first sunrise, and the beginning of the new day; to childhood and human innocence, and to ancient beliefs and spiritual origins; to the origins of life in the sea, nature and the Earth, and to the original human connection to nature.

But Origins is more than beginnings. It is a calling to return to one's beginnings with a purpose of renewal and discovery, and a sense of completing a journey.


All three compositions were written for the home listening environment. They are chamber music for today's "chamber;" written to exploit the intimacy and immediacy of the "living room," and the unique sound qualities and sound relationships available through recording playback, especially the spatial relationships of stereo. These pieces were not intended for the concert hall, and cannot be performed live.

The composition and recording processes are intertwined. My roles as composer and record producer were inseparable, and much 'composing' occurred in the recording studio, directly interacting with musicians and while combining and transforming their performances. The works were recorded using multitrack recording processes. The performers were often recorded individually in the recording studio, in isolation, each new track building on their previous material or the work of others. At times ensembles improvised together, and voice and piano were often recorded simultaneously, but the performers were always recorded to separate tracks for mixing and processing at a later time.

The musicians' parts were mostly improvised, following my general musical guidance; they were encouraged to reinterpret the text and vocal line through spontaneous performances. This approach allowed the artistry of the performers to become central to the music. The performers all contributed their unique musical personality to the project; a gift that cannot be overly appreciated. During the many hours of shaping the performances into musical compositions, the project's engineers also performed important musical roles in executing my musical ideas. While all final musical decisions were made by me, and the music is mine, these works contain the unique musical traits of the many people who contributed to this album.

-William Moylan


It was my desire to write a reverent setting of this Pawnee prayer for the dawn. Dawnwas created at The Banff Centre for the Arts, in the Canadian Rockies; the majesty of the surroundings provided a context of wonder for this work and the others I wrote there in 1993. From the morning of March 6 through the early morning hours of March 7, we performed the mixdown for Dawn. As I gazed out the large windows of the building's top floor about 2 a.m. that night, reflecting on the day's music, a full moon rose gracefully from behind Rundle Mountain, nudging apart a cold mist. Its light reflecting brightly off the snow, the moon's dawning gave affirmation to the work.


Earth our mother, breathe forth life

all night sleeping

now awaking

in the east

now see the dawn

Earth our mother, breathe and waken

leaves are stirring

all things moving

new day coming

life renewing

Eagle soaring, see the morning

see the new mysterious morning

something marvelous and sacred

though it happens every day

Dawn the child of God and Darkness

Jean Danton, soprano · Beate Ann, flute and alto flute · Anne Moyls, oboe and English horn Marianne LeMentec, harp ·Erin Donovan, percussion ·Marka Young, violin

The Stolen Child

The Stolen Child (1995) takes us to fairyland through the poetry of William Butler Yeats. I felt the presence of my (then) three-year-old son while writing this piece, and the presence of ancestors unknown. Here are the cycles of time and our connections to the past and the future; the origins of our spirituality, and our connections to ancient legends and to other worlds. The Stolen Child was commissioned by the Ball State University School of Music for the 25th Anniversary Festival of New Music.


Where dips the rocky highland

Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,

There lies a leafy island

Where flapping herons wake

The drowsy water-rats;

There we've hid our faery vats,

Full of berries

And of reddest stolen cherries.

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

For the world's more full of weeping than you can


Where the wave of moonlight glosses

The dim grey sands with light,

Far off by furthest Rosses

We foot it all the night,

Weaving olden dances,

Mingling hands and mingling glances

Till the moon has taken flight;

To and fro we leap

And chase the frothy bubbles,

While the world is full of troubles

And is anxious in its sleep.

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

For the world's more full of weeping than you can


Where the wandering water gushes

From the hills above Glen-Car,

In pools among the rushes

That scarce could bathe a star,

We seek for slumbering trout

And whispering in their ears

Give them unquiet dreams;

Leaning softly out

From ferns that drop their tears

Over the young streams.

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

For the world's more full of weeping than you can


Away with us he's going,

The solemn-eyed:

He'll hear no more the lowing

Of the calves on the warm hillside

Or the kettle on the hob

Sing peace into his breast,

Or see the brown mice bob

Round and round the oatmeal-chest.

For he comes, the human child,

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

From a world more full of weeping than he can


Jean Danton, soprano · David Martins, clarinet · Thomas Stumpf, piano

Mother Earth: Her Whales

Voices and sounds from nature become instruments and sound sources in my setting of this significant poem by Gary Snyder. Together with traditional musical instruments and voices, nature sounds create an ever-changing landscape against which the poem speaks. My setting seeks to celebrate life in nature and its natural origins, and the original human connection to the natural world; it also mourns our movement away from some unknown time of our origin, when humans might have revered all other life on Earth and lived sustainably.

This was the major work I produced at The Banff Centre for the Arts during the winter of 1993. While I returned to the piece several times over the past five years, reworking various sections, my attempts at revisions have always led back to the original version that came so comfortably and naturally. This final version is nearly the same as the original, with some small changes made in the summer of 1998.

Mother Earth: Her Whales

An owl winks in the shadows

A lizard lifts on tiptoe, breathing hard

Young male sparrow stretches up his neck,

big head, watching -

The grasses are working in the sun. Turn it green.

Turn it sweet. That we may eat.

Grow our meat.

Brazil says "sovereign use of Natural Resources"

Thirty thousand kinds of unknown plants.

The living acutal people of the jungle

sold and tortured-

And a robot in a suit who peddles a delusion called "Brazil"

can speak for them?

The whales turn and glisten, plunge

and sound and rise again,

Hanging over subtly darkening deeps

Flowing like breathing planets

in the sparkling whorls of

living light-

And Japan quibbles for words on

what kinds of whales they can kill?

A once-great Buddhist nation

dribbles methyl mercury

like gonorrhea

in the sea.

Père David's Deer, the Elaphure,

Lived in the tule marshes of the Yellow River

Two thousand years agoand lost its home to rice

The forests of Lo-yang were logged and all the silt &

Sand flowed down, and gone, by 1200 AD -

Wild geese hatched out in Siberia

head south over basins of the Yang, the Huang,

what we call "China"

On flyways they have used a million years.

Ah China, where are the tigers, the wild boars,

the monkeys,

like the snows of yesteryear

Gone in a mist, a flash, and the dry hard ground

Is parking space for fifty thousand trucks.

IS man most precious of all things?

-then let us love him, and his brothers, all those

Fading living beings -

North America, Turtle Island, taken by invaders

who wage war around the world.

May ants, may abalone, otters, wolves and elk

Rise! and pull away their giving

from the robot nations.

Solidarity. The People.

Standing Tree People!

Flying Bird People!

Swimming Sea People!

Four-legged, two-legged, people!

How can the head-heavy power-hungry politic scientist

Government two-world Capitalist-Imperialist

Third-world Communist paper-shuffling male

non-farmer jet-set bureaucrats

Speak for the green of the leaf? Speak for the soil?

(Ah Margaret Meaddo you sometimes dream of Samoa?)

The robots argue how to parcel out our Mother Earth

To last a little longer

like vultures flapping

Belching, gurgling,

near a dying Doe.

"In yonder field a slain knight lies -

We'll fly to him and eat his eyes

Ƒan with a down

derry derry derry down down."

An Owl winks in the shadow

A lizard lifts on tiptoe

breathing hard

The whales turn and glisten

plunge and

Sound, and rise again

Flowing like breathing planets

In the sparkling whorls

Of living light.

Poem "Mother Earth: Her Whales," by Gary Snyder: copyright © 1974 by Gary Snyder. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Jean Danton, soprano ·Anne Moyls, alto voice, oboe and English horn ·Beate Ann, flute and alto flute

Marianne LeMentec, harp · Thomas Stumpf, piano ·Erin Donovan, percussion · Marka Young, violin

"Tavern Singers": Jean Danton, William Moylan, Anne Moyls, Bo Newsome, Thomas Stumpf, Marka Young

Jean Danton

Soprano Jean Danton has performed throughout the United States in opera, musical theatre, oratorio and recitals. She has been a soloist with the Handel and Haydn Society, Oregon Bach Festival, Boston Baroque, Boston Pops, as well as several symphony orchestras. Ms. Danton made her Carnegie Hall debut performing Handel's Messiah with The Masterwork Chorus and her Lincoln Center debut in Messiah at Avery Fisher Hall with The National Chorale. Her festival appearances include the Carmel Bach Festival, Winter Park Bach Festival, Breckenridge Music Festival, N.Y. Bach Aria Festival, and the Boston Early Music Ensemble. An active recording artist, Ms. Danton sang cycles of Dominick Argento, Arnold Cooke, and William Moylan on the CD Songs of Innocence, for Albany Records, and released the CD American Dreamer, featuring the music of American composers, also on Albany Records. She has premiered works by American composers Sharon Davis, Thomas Stumpf, and William Moylan. Ms. Danton received degrees from the Hartt School of Music in opera performance and S.U.N.Y. at Fredonia in voice performance and musical theater.

Beate Ann

Beate Ann (Marloffstein, Germany) flutist, studied at conservatories in Switzerland (Basel) and Germany (Hanover and Freiburg). Upon her graduation in Basel she became a member of the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Basel, while studying in the Basel Electronic Music Studio. She has been a member of the Gustav Mahler European Youth Orchestra, conducted by Claudio Abbado.

Erin Donovan

Erin Donovan of Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada) received her bachelor's degree in percussion from McGill University and is pursuing graduate studies at Yale University. She has worked as a freelance professional in Montreal and the maritime provinces, and she took part in the McGill Symphony Orchestra's CD recording of Korngold's Symphony in F Sharp in Carnegie Hall.

Marianne LeMentec

Marianne LeMentec of Bourg-la-Reine, France, studied harp at l'Ecole Nationale de Musique there, receiving the prix de perfectionnement in 1987. Then she entered the Paris Conservatory, where she graduated with a premier prix in 1991, followed by graduate studies in 1992. She has performed in ensembles and as soloist in France and Norway.

David Martins

David Martins is Professor of Clarinet at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He is a member of the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Boston Classical Orchestras and appears frequently with Masterworks Chorale, New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra, ProArte Chamber Orchestra, Monadnock Music Festival, and Alea III. In past years he has toured with the Philharmonia Hungarica Orchestra on their US tours, the Puccini Festival Orchestra throughout Italy, and has performed five tours throughout Greece as soloist and member of the contemporary chamber ensemble Alea III. He can be heard on orchestral and chamber recordings on the CRI, Koch, Titanic, and Albany labels.

Anne Moyls

Anne Moyls studied music at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, and at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, before securing a full-time orchestral position playing oboe and English horn with the Victoria Symphony. In 1992, she took a sabbatical to concentrate on improvisation-based composition at The Banff Centre for the Arts, where she was invited by Moylan to collaborate on his projects. Since then, Anne has moved to northern British Columbia and has redirected her creative energy to the field of social work and community well-being.

Thomas Stumpf

Thomas Stumpf, born in Shanghai, received his degree in piano performance from the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Astria, and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He won concert competitions at both institutions. His performing career has taken him across four continents and he has performed with such celebrities as Rita Streich, Edith Mathis, Richard Soltzman, Walter Trampler and Leslie Parnas. He has given many recitals with soprano Joan Heller, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, and they collaborated on the CD On the Verge, released by Neuma, which includes Stumpf's composition "Lear's Daughters." He has appeared with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Boston Pops Orchestra (under Arthur Fiedler) and numerous other ensembles. He has taught at the New England Conservatory, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and Boston University, and has regularly given master-classes in the summer at the B.U. Tanglewood Institute, in Mannheim, Germany, and at the Montanea Festival in Switzerland.

Marka Young

Marka Young (State College, Pennsylvania), violinist, has been a member of the Princeton Composers' Ensemble, the Contemporary Chamber Players, the Stony Brook Quartet, and BIS, a contemporary music sextet. She holds a doctorate and a master's degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College.

William Moylan

William Moylan was born in Virginia, Minnesota in 1956. His compositions have been performed by leading artists and ensembles throughout the United States, and in Canada, Europe, and Japan. They have been broadcast on Public Television, National Public Radio, Minnesota Public Radio and over the Canadian Broadcast Corporation nationally and regionally. Over forty (40) of Moylan's compositions are published by Seesaw Music Corporation (ASCAP), Future Echoes Music (BMI), and by Roncorp, Inc. (BMI), and his works are recorded on Albany Records, Opus One Recordings and on the Breathing Space labels. As a recording producer and engineer, he has recorded some of today's leading performers in a broad range of musical genres. He produced recordings for the Aspen Music Festival, and his music recordings have been broadcast nationally and regionally over public and commercial television and radio, and have been released commercially on a variety of major and independent record labels.

Moylan's early musical experiences were centered on the violin and guitar, and later on the double bass. While in secondary school, he studied voice, piano and brass instruments, and received formal education in music theory, ear training and music history. During these formative years as a musician he worked intimately in a wealth of musical traditions and styles. Since early in his career, he has utilized technology in his music and music making. He holds the Doctor of Arts degree from Ball State University, Master of Music degree from the University of Toronto, and the Bachelor of Music degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music of the Johns Hopkins University. William Moylan is the Chairperson of the Department of Music, and Professor of Music and Sound Recording Technology, at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.


Dawn and *Mother Earth:Her Whales produced using the facilities of The Banff Centre for the Arts (Banff, Alberta, Canada).

Producer: William Moylan. Engineer: Norah Fraser and *William Moylan. Mixed by Norah Fraser and William Moylan. *Edited by William Moylan.

The Stolen Child recorded at the University of Massachusetts Lowell's Sound Recording Technology studios.

Producer: William Moylan. Engineer: William S. Carman III. Mixed by William Carman and William Moylan. Edited by Lou Clark and William Moylan. Assisted by Lou Clark, Stephen Crocker, Matthew Pavolaitis, Nicholas Zampiello.

Mastered by Laurie Flannery, Northeastern Digital Recording, Inc. (Southboro, MA).

Humpback whale songs were recorded in the Caribbean on February 14, 1992 by Paul Knapp. Copyright © 1992 by Compass Recordings. Used by permission.

All compositions copyright © 1998 Future Echoes Music (BMI).

Art by Zachary Moylan


To the special people who performed on this album, for their contributions to its magic;

to Norah Fraser and Bill Carman for their transparent execution of my visions, and their gentle suggestions; to Paul Knapp and Gary Snyder for their generous permission to use their work; Laurie Flannery and Anne Shepard; Kevin Elliott, The Banff Centre and all its staff; Lou Clark, Stephen Crocker, Matthew Pavolaitis, Nicholas Zampiello; Susan Bush and Albany Records; and to Vicki and Zachary.

William Moylan


Dawn (4:13)

The Stolen Child (15:21)

Mother Earth: Her Whales (37:04)

Jean Danton, soprano

Beate Ann, flute & alto flute ·David Martins, clarinet

Erin Donovan, percussion ·Thomas Stumpf, piano

Marianne LeMentec, harp · Marka Young, violin

Anne Moyls, alto voice, oboe & English horn

All compositions copyright ©1998 Future Echoes Music (BMI).

TOTAL TIME = 56:47