William Mayer, contemporary classical composer


Poems from William Mayer
New World-CRI (2007)

William Mayer

Blow, autumn winds, blow
My heart is far away
But where I cannot know.

Blow, autumn winds, blow
My heart is far away
But where I cannot know:
Spain, Tripoli, Khartoum?

Who can say where my heart is,
For where he is, there is my heart,
And I do not know, do not know ...
Where he is.

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Deeply Down
Elizabeth Aleinikoff

Deeply down
In a great green sweep of sound
Goes the ocean.
Deeply down
In a great green sweep of sound,
Down, down...

Land of Dead Dreams
Alfred Noyes

They are crammed and jammed in buses,
And they’re each of them alone,
Each of them alone,
In the land where the dead dreams go.

Prophetic Soul
Dorothy Parker

Because your eyes are slant and slow,
Because your hair is sweet to touch,
My heart is high again; but oh,
I doubt if this will get me much.

Isn’t There Some Mistake?
William Mayer

Who knows what new oddity
Age will bring me today?
The wrinkle, the white hair,
The jowl that was the identifying mark
Of uncle, parent, parents’ friends
Ludicrously lands on me.

Isn’t there some mistake?

“... For No Man”
William Mayer

I wish that time would stop
Or wish it might go slowly,
I wish—
But time passes.

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Hastily Formed Contemporary Music Ensemble Reveals Origins
(a mélange of clichés)
William Mayer

To reach beyond, beyond the crest
To seek where no man has peeked before,
To flout, to dare sun’s blinding light;
Life, love lily laughter;
Oh time, oh space, embrace me;
Wordless I stand raped by silence.
To seek beyond, fly high through the sky;
Cherish the challenge!
True love endures.
Ya da da da da da, Ya da da da
Life, love, pot-a- pot away,
Ya da da da, Ya da da da.
To reach beyond,
To find; to keep —
I hear the soft note!

Distraught Soprano Undergoes Unfortunate Transformation
William Mayer

Oh God, I’m on the stage, I have a cold,
I need the words (I’m not that bold)
Oh God, I’ve lost the pitch, I’m getting old
[to accompanist] (A cue note please; do what you’re told)
Oh my, my life’s gone by and where am I?
I’ve — tried to relax
Through yoga
Through my Guru
To rela-a-ax —
But no, life presses in, won’t let go
(My slip’s too long; does it show?)
I know:
“Don’t scoop for notes, but hit them square”
(Good grief, I’m running out of air)
Dear God, I’ve — tried hypnosis,
Massage to rela-a-ax —
But how? A critic’s here: I feel the chill
(Lord, I need my Equanil)
But still, the audience looks so elite
And aren’t the boys up there just sweet!
Ah ha, I noticed how they looked at me:
An animal look, wild and free!
Oh dear, this cold of mine, I’ve got to cough
[suddenly remembering]
My cat is there, she fights for breath
Her red eyes close awaiting death —
Oh no! A thought like that can turn you
Strike you deaf and strike you dumb ...
[Singer is now unable to form words, but her clucks
indicate what she has turned into]

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Selections from The Eve of St. Agnes (condensed)
John Keats

Narrator:       St Agnes’ Eve – Ah, bitter chill it was!
                    The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
                    The hare limped trembling through the frozen grass,
                    And silent was the flock in woolly fold.

                    She slept an azure sleep, an azure lidded sleep she
                    Sharp sleet patters against the windowpane.
                    The wintry wind blows flaw-blown sleet; foot
                                  worn stones; ashes cold.

                    Numb were the Beadsman’s fingers,
                    Numb while he told his rosary, and while his frosted
                    Like pious incense from a censor old seemed taking
                    For Heaven.

Chorus:         Ave Maria

Guests:          Hail! Health to horseman, hawk, and hound.
                    Hey ho
                    Hey ho yo!
                    Hail! Health to all.

Chorus:         Ave Maria; Ave Maria

Narrator:       Still she slept an azure lidded sleep, an azure sleep.
                    Prophyro, Prophyro young and bold, stole into her
                                  Silken chamber, gazed upon her empty dress –
                                  Longed for Madeline.

Chorus:         Ave Maria.

Guests:          Hawk, horse and hound! Hail to hawk and

Chorus:         Ave Maria.

Narrator:       He crept, he stept noiseless, hushed to where she slept
                    in slumberous tenderness.
                    Still she slept an azure sleep, in blanched linen
                                  smooth and lavendered.

                    The wintry moon through casements high shone dimly,
                    Shone upon fair Madeline’s breast.
                    Then by her bedside where she lay in linen lavender,
                    The faded moon made a dim silver twilight.

                    Soft he lay a table: quince, candied apple, plum and gourd;
                    These he brought with syrup tinct with cinnamon,
                    Tinct with cinnamon, candied apple plum and gourd, dates.
                    Everyone from silken Samarcand to cedared Lebanon.

Porphyro:      Now my love awake, or I shall drowse beside thee.

Narrator:       Thus whispering, he took her lute, and in tones that
                                  tenderest be, played “La belle dame sans merci.”

Madeline:      Porphyro, thy voice! Sweet tremble in mine ear.

Narrator:       Her heart is lost, she knows not where to go.
                    Porphyro arose from her beside where he knelt;
                    He arose impassioned beyond a mortal man, a
                                  throbbing star.

Madeline:      Prophyro, my heart is lost in thine, my love.

Narrator:       Into her dream he melted as the rose blendeth its
                                  Odour with the violet, solution sweet.

Madeline:      Prophyro, my heart is lost in thine, my love

Narrator:       St. Agnes’ moon has set.

Prophryo:      Fear thee not, my heart is lost in thine
                    Awake my love, arise and fearless be,
                    There are no ears to hear, no eyes to see.

Chorus:         Storm! Down, glide the dark stairs.
                    Hurry! Make no sound! Shh!
                    Storm! Roar, wild winds roar! Roar!

Narrator:       The long carpets rose.
                    The key turns,
                    The door upon its hinges groans.

                    And they are gone: aye, ages long ago
                    These lovers fled into the storm.
                    That night the Baron dreamt of many a woe,
                    And all his warrior-guests, with form
                    Of witch and coffin-worm
                    Were long be-nightmared.
                    The Beadsman, after a thousand Aves told, slept.
                    He slept among his ashes cold.

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~ Notes from this CD

William Mayer CD

William Mayer
   New World-CRI (2007)
Eight instrumental and vocal works by Mayer.

~ Order online from New World Records or from Amazon, ArkivMusic, etc.

Performers: Iowa Brass Quintet; Members of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (William McGlaughlin, conductor); New York Brass and Woodwind Ensemble (Emanuel Balaban, conductor); Robert Nagel Brass Trio; The Peabody Conservatory Chorus and Orchestra (Gregg Smith, conductor; Arthur Weisberg, conductor; Catherine Rowe, soprano; Albert De Ruiter, narrator).

~ Country Fair
~ Dream’s End
~ Khartoum
~ Brass Quintet
~ Miniatures
~ Two News Items
~ Essay for Brass and Winds
~ The Eve of St. Agnes

© 2009 William Mayer