Aberfan (7 pianos, percussion, voice and tools of rescue)

ABERFAN WALES 1966On October 21, 1966, in the small mining village of Aberfan, Wales, a man-made mountain of coal waste catastrophically collapsed on a primary school, killing 116 children and 28 adults.

Informed by one of the most poignantly tragic disasters of our time, Aberfan is a full length modern composition that uses excerpts of melody and lyric from a folk song my mother wrote following the tragedy.  Music will be presented both in performance and installation with black & white photographs taken by Life photojournalist IC Rapoport, who went to Aberfan to “photograph the psychic mess”.

I am seeking support to fund the recording and presentation of this project.

Make online contributions now.

A psychological and spiritual rendering as much as a musical one, Aberfan was an excavation into my own soul. As Alice Miller discovered the trauma of her own childhood through spontaneous painting and wrote about in her many books, this is the story of power and destruction wrought over all the world in the willful, negligent and unconscious devastation upon the most vulnerable and the call to transform, through my music, the inscrutable events.

PRESS

RADIO INTERVIEW   “I see [Aberfan] as the epitome of the folk process, because folk music, in all its definitions, is about stories.” (Nick Noble, WICN)

Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  Contributions on behalf of Aberfan must be made payable to NYFA, and are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.  All donations will be acknowledged on my website and project page unless requested kept private.

If sending a check, please make payable to NYFA & mail to:  Vault of the Valley Music, 27 Abbott Street, Greenfield, MA, 01301.

Here is a demo sample of voice and piano parts:  

“All Things Bright and Beautiful” was sung that day at morning assembly.  The catastrophic collapse occurred about 9:15am.

Aerial view, October 21, 1966, courtesy of AGU Blogosphere

(Photo top of page by IC Rapoport 1966)

 

Studio Tomorrow

Going into Boston tomorrow to begin recording Aberfan with Michael.  Excited.

Here is some of the initial “Rain Sequence”, written for several pianos on the same part:  

Almost hard to believe.

Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501 (c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  Contributions are tax deductible.  Please become a part of this endeavor by making a donation.  One specific, immediate need is payment for the piano tuner:  $125

aberfan-memorial-garden-plaque-2

Meet Michael Farquharson

Michael Farquharson will be producing Aberfan.

We met several years ago while recording my last album, Talon of the Blackwater.  He played fretless bass — I loved it!  Out of all of his incredible playing, here’s one of my favorite clips:

“I Was Once a Sailor” 

Little did I know then that producing was one of his passions, too.  In fact, last year I had a dream of the most fabulous rhythms being played during a recording session of one of my songs.  Michael was producing.  He was saying “Yes!”  “Yes!”  Even inside the dream, I knew of it’s providential message.

We’ll be working at his studio in Boston, Mix One.

Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501 (c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  Contributions are tax deductible.  This recording cannot happen without your support.  Every donation helps!

Recording Aberfan September 26th

Practicing!

We go into the studio September 26th for the first of the recording.  On a 7 foot grand piano.

Immersed, reviewing, listening, remembering.  I’ll do my best.
This is where I work

 

Here is a sample, “Trauma”:  

Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501 (c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  Contributions are tax deductible.  This recording cannot happen without your support!

Sunrise on “Aberfan”

AberfanPantglasSchoolCourtesy of Alan GeorgeFriday morning at 7:30am, October 21st, 1966, was ironically “calm and sunny”.

Though “over a week of heavy rainfall” had fallen, “there were no reports of rain [on the morning of the landslide]…the images all seem to show dry but dull conditions”.

 

Demo excerpt “Sunrise”:  

Aberfan  is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501 (c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  Contributions are tax deductible and will go towards the studio recording, which begins later this month.

Thank you to Dave Petley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom for all his help providing facts during my time of research.  American Geophysical Union Blogosphere

Photo of Pantglas School courtesy of Alan George.

Recording “Aberfan” to Begin!

We will begin recording piano parts for Aberfan in September!

One of the piano sequences, “2nd Altered Interlude”, represents the children walking to school on the morning of the disaster.  Following those schoolchildren on their walk over the school’s threshold, Altered Interlude uses eighth-note triplets whose accents are shifted among first, second and third beats according to a randomized sequence. To achieve that, I cut out each of the notes and reassembled them— with eyes closed — to convey the element of chance that is part of everyday life and every catastrophe.  

Each Interlude contains 144 beats, one for each person who died.  

I am very honored to be working with producer and engineer Michael Farquharson.  This is going to be a tremendous experience.

More news and updates to follow soon.

Funding made possible in part by the Puffin Foundation and Puffin Foundation West.  Screenshot 2016-07-22 at 5.51.53 PM

Aberfan  is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501 (c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  Contributions are tax deductible.

Puffin Foundation Awards Aberfan

Screenshot 2016-07-22 at 5.51.53 PM

“The Puffin Foundation Ltd. seeks to open the doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artists and art organizations who are often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to their race, gender, or social philosophy.

The Puffin, once endangered in the northeastern United States, was returned to its native habitats through the efforts of a concerned citizenry. Our name is a metaphor for how we perceive our mission in the arts: to join with other concerned groups and individuals to ensure that the arts not merely survive, but flourish at all levels of our society.”

Many thanks for their award of $1250.

Aberfan  is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501 (c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  Contributions are tax deductible.

 

Aberfan, a Parable

                                                      
11_10-Aberfan-2 AGU Blogosphere
Aberfan, Wales, Coal Refuse Collapse Kills 144, 116 Children, 1966

What was the salvation and economic lifeblood of this small village, with its promise to the miners of being able to provide for their families, became the death of a generation and ongoing trauma for those who survived.  Were it not for short sighted environmental, governmental and economic practices that served only to protect the system and those who gained by it, this tragedy would never have happened.

What will be the legacy of fracking?  What will we be mourning the loss of in 50 years?  What unintended consequences befall us or our children?  What will be destroyed forever?  Our groundwater?  Who will be held responsible?  The miners of Aberfan did not pile coal waste high above the village so their children would be buried one day.  Our systems have not changed, only the people and machinery have — corporate dominance assures ‘progress and safety’ while exploiting humankind and the earth as commodities.  The visceral, powerful message in the music of Aberfan is the felt knowledge of this human condition, resonating over time.

Unless we reclaim our history we are doomed.  It is precisely this loss of memory that enables these systems to dupe each coming generation into believing that prosperity is possible.

Aberfan (7 pianos, percussion, voice and tools of rescue) is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  Make your statement by helping this project be recorded.  Make your tax deductible donation towards its recording here.

West Virginia Collapse

West Virginia, Coal Refuse Collapse, 2012 
 

Truth in Aberfan

What’s the point of this piece Aberfan?

For all who have never heard of Aberfan, and all who remember Aberfan as if it were yesterday, unless we claim the truth of our shared history, we will lose the ability to recognize the violent indifference to life it entails.  Crimes more and more horrific will be perpetuated at the hands of power and greed and commodity, as we continue to extinguish ourselves.

Charles Nunn story

Aberfan (7 pianos, percussion, voice and tools of rescue) is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  Please make your tax deductible donation towards its recording here.

Raining from “Aberfan”

Today it’s raining.  I can hear the drops on our metal roof.  This is how it was when I was working on the Rain Sequence of Aberfan — realizing that rain falls haphazardly, scattershot, as if random.  Yet it is a precisely created pattern.

Here is the very beginning of Aberfan, a few minutes of rainone piano entering after the other.

Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts.  Please make a donation towards its recording here.