The Waking Father


The Waking Father


Song Cycle on Poetry of Paul Muldoon

Hagen and Muldoon explain their plans for "Shining Brow" to the commissioners in 1989.

Hagen and Muldoon explain their plans for "Shining Brow" to the commissioners in 1989.

  • Premiere: 27 July 1995  / Ozawa Hall, Tanglewood, Lenox, Massachusetts  / The Kings Singers
  • Instrumentation: SATTBB
  • Duration: 25'
  • Text: Paul Muldoon (E)
  1. The Waking Father
  2. Oscar
  3. Thrush
  4. The Fox
  5. Dancers at the Moy
  6. The Panther
  7. Bran
  8. Vico
  9. Enough
  10. Armageddon V
  11. The Mixed Marriage
  12. Cherish the Ladies

Program note

Commissioned by the Kings Singers in 1995 to create a large choral fantasia on poems of my own choosing, I elected to collect and arrange into a cycle poems written over the span of two decades by the Irish poet Paul Muldoon, who I had come to know at Yaddo, and who had subsequently penned several libretti for me. The 'through story,' such as there is, is an emotional one. My intention was to sketch in music, using the poet's own words, a portrait of the man I knew in middle age, surveying his past whilst shaping his outlook on the years ahead.

Although crafted specifically for the all-male Kings Singers, the work is most often performed by standard mixed choirs (SATB).

Premiered at Ozawa Hall during the Tanglewood Music Festival by the King's Singers on 27 July 1995, The Waking Father was originally published by Roger Dean Publishing Company. It was composed in Sandpoint, Idaho and completed on 15 August 1994. This newly-engraved second edition corrects a number of minor engraving mistakes in the first edition, but, in every other respect, is identical.


"Daron Hagen's The Waking Father comes out of the richly detailed and expressive American choral tradition of Barber's "Reincarnations' and Ned Rorem's "Pilgrim Strangers,' but it is a brilliantly original work in its own right — he has gotten under the skin of Paul Muldoon's complex but deeply heartfelt poems."

— Russell Platt, Composer, New Yorker critic.