Michael Mauldin's Farewell Remarks

01 May 2002
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Mauldin's farewell remarks upon his retirement and his being named Director Emeritus of the Albuquerque Boy Choir, May, 2002



My composing career, and my father's health, make this my last season with the boy choir.  I'll miss the boys a lot, so I hope some of them will take private voice or piano lessons with me next year, or let me help them with their theory competencies.  Out of all the things I've done in music, or with children, my thirteen years with the ABC have been the most challenging and the most rewarding of my life.  I'll always be an avid supporter of the choir and what it stands for.

My experience with boys--my sons, private students, and members of the choir--has been a labor of well-directed love.  The boys I've taught seemed relieved to find that it was acceptable--even admirable--to share their feelings--through performance for an audience, or just by talking with an adult who enjoyed them as boys--not "little men".  The sparkle in the eye, the long hug, the sharing of themselves with the audience, with me and with each other--has made my heart "too big for my body."  

The delight that children and adults find in each other is not perverse, abusive, nor a threat to civilization--but rather a source of its renewal.  Our purpose in life is not just to perpetuate our species and our beliefs.  It is also to make the journey less lonely for those who follow, and to refresh their souls (and ours) with shared power.

Parents, if I don't see your son next year for lessons, I hope I have a chance before summer break to thank you for sharing him with us.  Childhood is more than a means to an end--the "caterpillar before the butterfly".  That's the time in the womb.  From birth on, we fly.   If we let children fly with us, we may help them, but we also are helped by rediscovering the sense they have that somehow they will have enough energy.  Their spirit is more than the will to survive, more than knowing right from wrong.  It's an inspired willingness, even in diverse or difficult situations, to enjoy and share the magic and beauty that's around them.

If we helped your son cherish and give some of the best of his boyhood, then our efforts were worthwhile.  And, yes, his having done so will probably help him be a healthier, happier man.  To a society that is afraid to nurture its sons--where a man is more suspect for hugging a boy than for spanking or belittling him--I say defiantly, I am proud to have loved and nurtured boys.