creative art

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

Dad’s Lyric Sheet for “In a Town Called Aberfan”

Dad's writingAberfan

It’s very difficult to speak about Aberfan.

Mom wrote “In a Town Called Aberfan” when she heard and read about the landslide in the news.  My father wrote down Mom’s lyrics on a sheet of his graph paper in November 1966.  The small letters above the last chorus and verse are the chords.  “Copy by EWS”

I share this because I want you to know, beyond anniversaries, beyond boundaries of country, there is a memorial here, too, in my composition,  Aberfanunderway and surfacing over years.

In the midst of its deepest revision  I realized this question, how do you have words for such tragedy?  Should I use any lyrics at all?  If I did (for there are memories, and attempts to tell the story), the words themselves must be like the event, scattered, broken phrases, yet of a whole.

Here are the words that I spliced together for my own piece, cut out from Mom’s lyric.  The only word I changed was “town” to “village”.

In the small Welsh village of Aberfan

for days the rain did fall down on the heart–

Little children of Aberfan in their school that day

the big, coal mountain–

They worked with their picks all through the day

dug with their shovels and hands

kept  on  digging  kept  on  digging  kept  on  digging–

Aberfan (7 pianos, percussion, voice and tools of rescue) is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  All donations are tax deductible.  Your contribution ensures we can continue to create this recording.

We began recording in the studio this past September.

Aberfan was a man-made disaster. 50 years on, we must remember this

Powerful story by Huw Edwards:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/aberfan-was-a-man-made-disaster-50-years-on-we-must-remember-thi/

p00ksv3k640360 ICR sent, but not hisA

Aberfan (7 pianos, percussion, voice and tools of rescue)  is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501 (c)(3), tax-exempt organization. Contributions are tax deductible.

A psychological and spiritual rendering as much as a musical one, Aberfan is an excavation into my own soul.  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.

We are seeking funds to support the recording and presentation of this project.

“Aberfan”

Digging effort, Pantglas Junior School, Aberfan, Wales, October 21, 1966

9/8 bar – Trauma – 2nd Altered Interlude

Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  Please join in the effort by making your contribution here.

Photo courtesy AGU Blogosphere

Martin Luther King

king_splash2“Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  Make your contribution here.
(Thanks to Greening Greenfield for this quote.)

“Aberfan” Rain — Rubble

 

Aberfan articulates a broadening and deepening of artistic practice, far beyond what I’ve ever experienced, yet is inclusive of everything before it — the search, over years, for my own creative voice in composition.  Propelling itself through me, Aberfan is its own whole, symbol of what is most lacking in our world, as in our families and deep within ourselves, natural expression is desecrated and buried, just as our land is leveled.

Here is an excerpt of 2 pianos from Aberfan, the aftermath of a man-made disaster, a mix of rain and rubble.

Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  Make your contribution here.

Puffin Foundation West Awards “Aberfan”

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Granting individuals who work towards a progressive democracy, Puffin Foundation West has awarded $500 to Aberfan (7 pianos, percussion, voice and tools of rescue) for its recording.

Puffin Foundation West, Ltd. seeks to open the doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artist activists and arts organizations often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to race, gender, or social philosophy. Artists are able to reach across the borders of our imagination and in doing so often peaceably transform our society’s ideas about social justice issues.  Creative expression and innovation have always helped move society towards a more progressive democracy and allow us to recognize our universal humanity. Puffin Foundation West, Ltd. is committed to supporting such grass-roots artists and organizations.

Puffin Foundation West, Ltd. (PFW) believes artists have the unique ability to peacefully challenge those who seek to limit our expression. By sharing creative talents artists can speak out loud to and for all of humanity.

Here is a cautionary excerpt from their mission statement about these beautiful little birds:

Puffins once prospered off the coast of New England but were hunted almost to extinction for their feathers and for stew. In the late 1970’s a small group of volunteers worked to reintroduce Puffins back to these islands.  Owing to these constructive efforts these birds did make a comeback.  Sadly, Puffins as well as many other species are now threatened, this time by global warming and the encroachment of civilization on so many creatures’ habitat and corporate contamination of the natural world.

Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts.  Make a donation here.

Gratitude to Kelley

Kelley Kipperman has written a beautiful “retrospective / into the present” on our work together.  When we met, she was a student at Hampshire College and I had put out my third album, Talon of the Blackwater.

To be a creative artist (as Kelley is herself) is a singular, courageous act.  By definition, a true artists’ work, no matter the form, is subversive and challenging because it speaks in an individual voice most people can’t recognize.  For her ability to see my work, I am grateful.

She posted this about a month ago on Facebook, but I want everyone to be able to read it, so am re-posting it here.  Here are her words:

“four years ago now, Hintele Beyzn & i started a radio show called “waxwing at yurt radio” — with the idea of having live musicians come and play sets that we would broadcast live for anyone to listen to online.

we had many special folks come through and play on waxwing, and were lucky enough to have Laura Siersema come and share her sounds, words, and thoughts with us on several occasions. since first listening to and meeting laura, i felt a sense of deep appreciation for her and her work — it’s one of those beautifully soul-quaking feelings that you hear when sounds are swirling around your head and you feel them coming directly from someone’s heart, through their fingertips on the piano.

a little over a year ago now, laura got in touch with me to tell me about a project she had been conceiving of for quite some time at that point — a large and beautifully orchestrated piece based on a song her mother wrote regarding the aberfan disaster (1966) in wales.

this project, which she has entitled ABERFAN is a masterful and magical group of compositions that i so dearly hope can take the shape that she is aiming for it to.

laura and i have met several times, exchanged many emails, and spoken a lot about the project over the past year+. it holds a deep and gentle place in my heart and soul.

please take a moment to check out laura, her work, and aberfan. if aberfan strikes you as much as it does me, please donate through the new york foundation for the arts to help make aberfan become a reality. donate here : https://www.tinyurl.com/FundAberfan

Thoughts on Composing “Aberfan”

“Art that is simply willed is not art.” (Thomas Merton)

Several concepts were embedded in the process of composing Aberfan.  These became emotional and compositional imperatives, apparent only as I went along.  Chaos, the spiraling of events, silence after trauma, the absolute necessity that what wrenches, what pulls at the heart and hurts, be contained in the tension between how things are and how things have been.

So that Aberfan can be recorded, please donate at www.tinyurl.com/FundAberfan.