Born in Texas in 1947, Michael Mauldin first visited New Mexico in the 1950's when his father, a Presbyterian minister, brought his family to church retreats at Ghost Ranch, near Abiquiu. Michael determined as a boy that he wanted to live in a place like that--a place that "not only surrounds you with space, but that opens up new space inside you."
It wasn't until after completing a Bachelor of Music degree in piano and music education at Washburn University in Topeka and graduate work in piano pedagogy at the University of Colorado at Boulder, that Mauldin decided to fulfill his childhood wish. He came to Albuquerque in 1971, in time for a new-year's-day earthquake. He opened a private studio for instruction in piano and composition and joined the Albuquerque Music Teachers Association, the New Mexico Composers Guild and the New Mexico Music Teachers Association, all of which he served in various capacities, including the presidency of each.
Michael taught piano as a graduate assistant at the University of New Mexico and completed a Master of Music degree in composition there in 1974. A year later he wrote a work for his new wife, Bonnie, called "Three New Mexico Landscapes for Clarinet and Piano", premiered at a recital the couple gave at First Presbyterian Church. The piece won first place in the Bicentennial Composition Contest sponsored by the state's composers guild, and was performed during the New Mexico Bicentennial Concert held in the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 1976.
Inspired by the writings of Peggy Pond Church and Edith Warner in "The House at Otowi Bridge" (University of New Mexico Press), Mauldin composed "Enchanted Land: Suite for Narrator and Orchestra" in 1976. This work and "Three Dances From Chaco Canyon" were premiered by the Chamber Orchestra of Albuquerque, conducted by David Oberg, in a concert of Mauldin's music sponsored by the Ghost Ranch Foundation, and held in UNM's Keller Hall on June 21, 1981.
Mauldin composed "Petroglyph for Strings" in 1978 for a composition contest sponsored by the Chamber Orchestra of Albuquerque, which premiered it as the winning work on July 30, 1978, and which later recorded it for Opus One Records. The work was inspired by the evocative rock-drawings inscribed throughout New Mexico by the Anasazi, the early ancestors of today's Pueblo Indians. The November, 1981 issue of the AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE said, "Mauldin's 'Petroglyph' is a work of more than passing interest. His musical style is neither shocking nor dissonant. It is clearly contemporary writing with a 'bite' to it, but the harmonies are near conventional and the style quite accessible. It is a good example of well-crafted music of our time, which can speak to us without shouting."
In 1980, after a year of teaching music at Sandia Preparatory School in Albuquerque, Michael completed "Voices From Chaco", a concertino for piano and woodwind quintet, commissioned by the New Mexico Music Teachers Association and the Music Teachers National Association. The piece won first-place in a national competition, sponsored by MTNA. The group named him "Composer of the Year" for 1980 and presented the work at the MTNA national convention in Phoenix in 1981.
In 1982, Yoshimi Takeda, conductor at that time of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, commissioned Mauldin to write "Fajada Butte: An Epiphany", a symphonic movement inspired by the discovery of an ingenious sun-shrine and solstice-marker on top of Fajada Butte, in Chaco Canyon. Moved by the accomplishments of the Anasazi civilization, Mauldin wrote this for the premiere of "Fajada Butte": "More than just an observatory, the butte must have been regarded as a temple, perhaps for the 'meeting' of earth and sky. For 300 years, this was the 'center' for a people who truly celebrated life and light, and who found themselves in vibrant harmony with their cosmos. The Anasazi vanished. The vibrant harmony remains."
The ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL wrote of the premiere, "The gargantuan sound...carried the audience along in powerful melodies that flooded in great gushes of cinematic effect derived from the powerful impression of "Fajada Butte." In 1985, the piece was performed by the National Repertory Orchestra, under Carl Topilow, for the Twentieth-Anniversary Celebration of the National Endowment for the Arts at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
"Prayer of Mesas" was commissioned for the University of New Mexico Orchestra and Chorus by UNM, the City of Albuquerque Creative Arts Achievement Awards Project and the Urban Enhancement Trust Fund to celebrate the university's centennial. The work was premiered in 1988 at the UNM Arena and performed several more times in UNM's Popejoy Hall.
Though he has been commissioned by a number of groups and individuals, Mauldin has offered his talents free of charge to many groups in New Mexico. He has written pieces for the Albuquerque Children's Choir, Albuquerque Philharmonic Orchestra, Albuquerque Youth Symphony, Albuquerque Junior Symphony, the choir of First Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque, Serenata de Santa Fe, the Albuquerque Boy Choir, New Mexico Brass Quintet, New Mexico Woodwind Quintet, Santa Fe Women's Ensemble, the Santa Fe Trio, the Olympian Brass of the National Repertory Orchestra, the UNM Percussion Ensemble and others.
Michael served for four years as the national chair of the Student Composition Contest of the Music Teachers National Association. He was named "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 guest-conducted various student and community orchestras, and in January, 2000, he conducted the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra in recording sessions to prepare five of his orchestral compositions for the CD, "Enchanted Land." He guest conducts and serves as clinician for children's and youth choirs and orchestras, and on the subject of student composition. As a private teacher, public speaker, clinician, composer and performer, he actively promotes private and public arts-education throughout the country. He is also 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.
“Annacarla” is the name that Dutch linguist, Elizabeth Willink, gave her rambling adobe house in a valley near Cuba, New Mexico. In the years between 1975 and 1981, she had invited Mauldin to stay there and compose on his trips to Chaco Canyon. In 2005, almost twenty-five years after her death, he bought and restored the house as a composing and teaching retreat for himself and his students, and for other music students and guests who are interested in the scenic and spiritual landscape of northern New Mexico.