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.

Remember Aberfan — Jeff Edwards

I came across this yesterday and was astounded by Jeff’s straightforward honesty.  He survived an event impossible for any of us to imagine, unless one were there, with a great dignity.

Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). Contributions are tax deductible.

A most beautiful story and Music from “Aberfan”

The 50th anniversary. South Wales Police Museum

Aberfan: The mistake that cost a village its children

By Ceri Jackson, BBC News

Here are a few short samples from our first studio sessions for Aberfan.

First, “Rain Sequence”, the layering of pianos at the beginning of the piece.  

Second, “First Hymn”, a demo excerpt of “All Things Bright and Beautiful”.  The children were to sing it on the day of the disaster before they went home. 

“Rock Sequence”, the catastrophic collapse.  

Last, an excerpt of “Altered Rain”, the impossibility and hope of life forever altered as people descend back into the village following the mass funeral. 

In deepest honor.

Aberfan (7 pianos, percussion, voice and tools of rescue)  is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). Contributions are tax deductible.

Photo courtesy of Alan George

Patrons of All Sizes

UCC image

Many thanks to The United Congregational Church of Conway (Massachusetts) for their $100 contribution yesterday to Aberfan. 

This generous gift, in combination with my posting yesterday about a completed grant application, made me once again appreciate the necessity of donations of all sizes.  Grants for thousands of dollars are highly competitive, and therefore uncertain.  Individual donations like this one, however, form the backbone of everything I am trying to do.  Each one gets us closer to being able to actualize this project.

For centuries, patrons have been essential to bringing art into the world.

A difficult and singular endeavor that has carried itself through me over years (and will continue to do so) would be impossible to realize without the help from those for whom Aberfan resonates.  For everyone that gives to this undertaking, know that its enduring and significant impact is now also in your hands.

If you would wish your contribution to be publicly shared, as did The United Congregational Church of Conway, I would be happy to do so.

For giving to Aberfan, please go to tinyurl.com/FundAberfan.

MAP Fund application, by invitation

MAP Fund image

After months of preparation and not a little stress, another application made it out.  What astonished me, in finding answers to questions on the application , was to realize the deep thread that has been running through my work all along.  A great gift to find meaning.

Here is an excerpt:

“Aberfan articulates a broadening and deepening of practice far beyond what I’ve experienced before, yet inclusive of everything before it. What began on my knees, crouched in a narrow darkened tunnel cut towards a far away light opening into vast space, over years has been the search for my own creative voice in composition.  Aberfan became symbol of the greater, where time and form are permeable — where opposites are contained and held together in agonizing fusion, irregular shapes of risen cadences into a whole.”

Deep thanks to Ian Smith-Heisters for his part in helping mwith the application.

To contribute to the recording of Aberfan, please go to www.tinyurl.com/FundAberfan.


Many thanks to Hillary Hoffman, Jay Lord and George for advising me on this latest grant application for Aberfan.  For their clear minds and guidance as I dug my way from the poetic to the precise.  Here’s a little bit:

‘Aberfan is an elegy not only for the people of Aberfan who suffered the loss of a generation and the “wounded soul of the Welsh” who saw “their beautiful country being destroyed when the coal mines came to the valleys”,  (BBC Radio 4) but for our world, besieged by an unbridled industry pillaging the land and capitalizing on its riches for individual gain. 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, more recently embodied by mountaintop-removal coal mining and fracking to extract natural gas. This project confronts and aims to disrupt our complacency.

The penetrating quality of musical vibrations in synergy with photographic art, resonating where words cannot, evokes a greater world where all are connected as living beings on a living earth. In bearing witness to the single atrocity of Aberfan, one can begin to question the arrogance of “progress” built on destruction, absent the soul.’

For the performance or installation of Aberfan, we need money to create a studio recording and develop a design for the visual element.

To participate in helping make this project happen, contribute here:  www.tinyurl.com/FundAberfan

BBC Radio 4 program produced by Maggie Ayre.

“Aberfan” 9/8 bar – Trauma – 2nd Altered Interlude

9/8 bar – Trauma – 2nd Altered Interlude

“The dreadful calamity of the Aberfan landslide disaster remains perhaps the most poignant and memorable disaster in the UK since the Second World War.  The combination of a failure of responsibility by the relevant authorities, the dreadful events in the moment of the landslide, the heroic but mostly futile rescue attempts, and the appalling behaviour of some parties in the aftermath of the disaster created an extraordinary mix…”  AGU Blogosphere

Large art projects like this cannot be done without your contributions.  To ensure that Aberfan is recorded, make your tax deductible donation here:  www.tinyurl.com/FundAberfan.

(Pantglas Junior School, Aberfan, 1966.  Photo courtesy of AGU Blogosphere)