fundraising

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 there had been “over a week of heavy rainfall”, 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, “Interlude”, represents the children walking to school on the morning of the disaster.  Following those schoolchildren on their walk over the school’s threshold, this musical section uses eighth-note triplets according to a randomized sequence. To achieve that, I cut out each of the notes of the original 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.  “Altered Interlude” accents shift among first, second and third beats.  Here is “2nd Altered Interlude”  

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.

Aberfan (7 pianos, voice and tools of rescue)

ABERFAN WALES 1966

Elegy for the death of a generation of children in Aberfan, Wales in 1966.  At the crossroads of contemporary world music, experimental media and the reverberating power of trauma.

On October 21st, in the small mining village of Aberfan, a man-made mountain of coal waste collapsed on a primary school and nearby houses, killing 116 children and 28 adults.

My composition Aberfan incorporates elements from a folk song my Mom wrote following the 1966 disaster that I heard growing up, and  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 with black & white photographs  — taken by Life photojournalist IC Rapoport, who went to Aberfan to “photograph the psychic mess” and and BBC Wales archive footage from the rescue effort.

MUSIC SAMPLES  of work in progress

Aberfan is an expression of the collective unconscious of our time.  A psychological and spiritual rendering as much as a musical one, it is an excavation into my own soul.  Propelling itself through me, Aberfan is the story of power and destruction wrought over all the world in the willful, negligent and unconscious devastation upon what is most vulnerable in ourselves and in others, and the practice of transforming what cannot be fathomed through my music.  

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

DONATE

 

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

PHOTOGRAPHS

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 tranquility 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, Deupree Family Foundation and M. S. Worthington Foundation.

Screenshot 2016-07-22 at 5.51.53 PM

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

thendara foundation

PFW_Header7-FINAL-WEB-sm

deupreefamilyfoundation

 

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. (more…)

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.

“Aberfan”: Rain – Rubble, Altered Interlude, Final Hymn (Altered)

An extended excerpt of piano parts from Aberfan — survivors resuming the impossibility and hope of life forever altered in the aftermath.

Laura Siersema is composer of Aberfan (7 pianos, voice and tools of rescue), 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 return to the studio to complete its recording.

“Aberfan”

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

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

“Aberfan”, Final Hymn

aberfan final tribute no sound THUMBNAIL_3

I discovered footage from the AP Archives that had no sound.  Here is a shot from that 5 minutes of film taken at the mass funeral of victims of the Aberfan Disaster on 27th October 1966.

Here is a demo excerpt from my composition Aberfan, Final Hymn, “Loving Shepherd of Thy Sheep”, one of two hymns sung at the service on the hillside.

Aberfan (7 pianos, 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 on behalf of Aberfan must be made payable to NYFA, and are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.