Aberfan, Wales, 1966, Coal Refuse Collapse Kills 144, 116 Children
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.
West Virginia, Coal Refuse Collapse, 2012
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.
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.
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 rain, one 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.
Photograph IC Rapoport, Aberfan 1966
An extended excerpt of piano parts from Aberfan — survivors resuming the impossibility and hope of life forever altered in the aftermath.