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 catastrophe occurred when a mountain of coal waste collapsed on a primary school, killing 116 children and 28 adults.

Envisioned at the crossroads of modern music, experimental media and environmental welfare, Aberfan is a full length composition that uses excerpts from a folk song my mother wrote following the 1966 disaster, as well as hymns — one the children would have sung at morning assembly that day and another sung at the mass funeral less than one week later.  Music will be presented both in live performance and immersive installation with black & white photographs — such as the one above — taken by Life photo  journalist IC Rapoport, who went to Aberfan to “photograph the psychic mess”.

By addressing the visceral, personal experiences of the disaster, Aberfan investigates how art, together with technology, can be used for experiential transformation, while implying the disaster’s universal relevance as an almost-forgotten humanitarian crime against a future generation.

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

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A psychological and spiritual rendering as much as a musical one, Aberfan is 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, Aberfan propelled itself through me.  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.

COLLABORATORS:

Michael Farquharson  Studio Producer / Engineer, Mix One Studios, Boston, MA

Ian Smith-Heisters  Media Design, Berkeley, CA

Denise Wallace-Spriggs  Art Direction, Boston, MA

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:  

“Their daily rendition [in morning assembly, 9am] of ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ – a hymn written a few miles away in the bucolic tranquillity of the Usk Valley – was postponed that day.

They would sing it before they went home when the head teacher planned to wish her pupils a safe and enjoyable holiday.” (Aberfan:  A Mistake that Cost a Village its Children, by Ceri Jackson, BBC News, October 21, 2016)

The catastrophic collapse occurred about 9:15am.

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

(Photo top of page by IC Rapoport 1966)

Aberfan is funded in part by Puffin Foundation, Thendara Foundation, Puffin Foundation West and Deupree Family Foundation.

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“…Continuing the dialogue between art and the lives of ordinary people.”

thendara foundation

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In this desperate time of upheaval

We are living now the upheaval — the turning outside what was in, what has long been buried — and must live now to extricate ourselves from what would obliterate good, what is bright and free.  The underbelly, black water out my dream now burst upon the land, no sorcerer could have done without people. We are in the confines of a trained evil.

South Wales Police Museum7

In this dire time for our world, I implore you to share news of my composition Aberfan, catapulting the disaster of 1966 into the present.

Here encapsulates the mission:

Envisioned as a project at the crossroads of modern music, experimental media and environmental justice:  Aberfan is an elegy not only for the people of Aberfan –Wales who suffered the loss of a generation — but for our world, besieged by unbridled industry pillaging the land and exploiting its riches.  The tragedy of Aberfan and the music it informed manifest the abject sorrow and rage resulting from the devastating human and environmental impacts of the fossil fuel industry — embodied by mountaintop-removal coal mining and fracking to extract natural gas.  Aberfan confronts and aims to disrupt our complacency, inciting change in the only way possible — by touching the soul.

Aberfan is participatory.  An immersive space will be created using projection of imagery and semi-transparent scrims, capturing the landscape and people, the tactility of coal, ingrained in their faces. The viewer will move through the space, at times full of unsettling, discordant movement as if being subsumed in an avalanche of slag and at other times nearly silent, inducing pause. One can walk inside, behind and around the moving images, inside of the presentation.

The project will investigate how art, together with technology, can be used for experiential transformation by addressing the visceral, personal experiences of the disaster through image and sound, while implying the disaster’s universal relevance as an almost-forgotten humanitarian crime against a future generation.

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

As I seek funds enabling me to return to the studio, I urge you to pass this along.

I am deeply indebted to those who have contributed.   Your confidence in and appreciation of this mission in my music has been a mainstay.

Fridge Feed: “Along the Fenway”

Screenshot 2017-03-29 at 1.18.04 PMDedicated to promoting women in music, Sydney-based Fridge Feed has posted a review of one of my songs:  http://www.fridgefeed.com/emerging-artists/2017/3/18/laura-siersema 

“Laura Siersema’s neo-classical piece ‘Along the Fenway’ is storytelling bliss…”

Thank you very much for noting one of my own.

“Along the Fenway” was recorded on my third album, Talon of the Blackwater and features cellist Eugene Friesen.

“(Art) the quiet work of centuries…” President John F. Kennedy

“The poet, the artist, the musician, continues the quiet work of centuries, building bridges of experience between peoples…reminding man of the universality of his feelings, desires and despairs… thus, art is political in the most profound sense, not as a weapon in the struggle, but an instrument of understanding of the futility of struggle…”

President John F. Kennedy

Remarks on  Behalf of the National Cultural Center, 29 November 1962:  https://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKWHA-145-008.aspx

Words of such insight and beauty for anyone, yet especially to those of us who happen to be creative artists, and of necessity, work alone.

My deep appreciation to Kelly Bennett and Dan Blask at Massachusetts Cultural Council for posting this link.

Spotify: Laura Siersema Trio Live at 1794 Meetinghouse

The Trio Live album is now available on Spotify!

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If you listen to music on Spotify, there’s a small thing you can do that’d be a big help: FOLLOW me there!

Once I get to 250 followers, Spotify will “verify” my account, which opens up the possibility my music can be added to their playlists.

Thank you for this support.

iTunes: Laura Siersema Trio Live @ 1794 Meetinghouse

1794triocoverFor anyone that uses iTunes, the new release is now up!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/laura-siersema-trio-live-at-1794-meetinghouse/id1209345086

Please take a listen and add to your playlists.

Your support is so important!  Thank you.

Artist

The “Artist” is timeless and would like to move about freely — but for the effects of modern world, which is always changing, all intent on crushing what is creative —

Yet there is so much in me that suppresses and belittles, it is world turned inside and that is the horror —

This is what we struggle against every day in our practice to be free — and yet, the strength, the fortitude and vision is already in us, in the form of a single soul — and what beauty it can bear —

From the emptying there comes a better way, which need not demean, compare, or count the value in numbers or time —

Amen —

Solzhenitsyn: “A work of art…”

Image result for aleksandr solzhenitsyn spouse“A work of art contains its verification in itself:  artificial, strained concepts do not withstand the test of being turned into images; they fall to pieces, turn out to be sickly and pale, convince no one.  Works which draw on truth and present it to us in live and concentrated form grip us, compellingly involve us, and no one ever, not even ages hence, will come forth to refute them.”

Nobel Lecture, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 1970

Laura Siersema Trio: Live Album!

1794triocoverHooray!  Our trio album, Live at 1794 Meetinghouse is available at CDBaby!  Digital only!

Billy Klock and Wim Auer played with me for three years following the release of Talon of the Blackwater in 2009.  These guys gave their hearts and souls to my music.  What great champions!  I love them both.

Listening to these tracks over the last few weeks — our last performance together — has been a great joy.  At long last, an “official” release!  Dedicated to them.

Please take a listen!   Buy yourself an individual track or the whole album!

Thank you for your support.