modern composition

Art is Radical

If it is truly creative, art is radical.

Art upends institutions and challenges us to examine the very fabric of our being, our society.  We are loosened.

We must re-member ourselves and our reason for living, what greater purpose beyond the tactics of greed, what measurement of a timeless nature, what pattern of the gods.  

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.

“Rain/Rubble”, demo excerpt of pianos from Aberfan.  Life forever altered and forever bound to the two.

Photo from AP Archives , the graves of Aberfan, October 27, 1966.

What is the value of connecting to your soul?

Does connecting to your soul enable you to make good choices for the environment?

In this desperate time of upheaval, as our earth is besieged by unbridled industry pillaging the land and exploiting its riches — embodied by mountaintop-removal coal mining and fracking to extract natural gas — it is urgent we activate a moral and creative counterweight to intellectual arguments for climate change:   awaken the spirit of shared humanity and responsibility that lives in each of us.

Aberfan speaks directly to what is at the heart of our survival as fully actualized beings on a thriving planet — the need to reconnect with our own souls, where one realizes the interrelatedness of all things and greed does not overpower the value of life.  Only then are we impelled to critically examine the impact that our daily choices are having on our environment.

In bearing witness to the specific atrocity of Aberfan we expose our present challenge.  In sensing what is greater than ourselves, we re-envision a sustainable and just future.

On October 21, 1966, in the small mining village of Aberfan, Wales, a man-made mountain of coal waste catastrophically collapsed on a primary school, killing 116 children and 28 adults.

At the crossroads of modern music, experimental media and environmental justice, Aberfan catapults this disaster into the present.  Music will be presented both in exhibition, live performance and participatory installation with photographs taken by Life photojournalist IC Rapoport.

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

Photo IC Rapoport, Aberfan, 1966

ArtSake: How Have Mentors Affected Your Art?

Posted recently at Mass Cultural Council’s blog ArtSake, a place to dig into the creative, innovative work of Massachusetts artists.  Periodically, they pose questions to artists about issues they face in their work and lives. This month, they asked practitioners in a variety of disciplines, Have you had any important mentors? Who have they been, and how did they affect you?

Laura Siersemacomposer
One day after a session with Maggie, walking down Trowbridge Street in Cambridge, I felt something I had never experienced before in my life. As if slightly elevated above the sidewalk, I was enveloped, cushioned in timelessness. I believed it was the Feminine. Maggie was a Jungian psychoanalyst and we had just begun our long journey together, which would last over years, until her death. Guide through the chronicle and cipher of my dreams; attentive to events whose plumb lines captured our attention in the daylight, Maggie traveled with me on an inner way towards my own creative center: where physical, psychological and musical sensations are one. Where, in fact, I co-create with God. To passage between waking and sleep, courier of images and sounds occasionally glimpsed or heard – where beauty is both dark and light, and evidence of trauma transformed. What access to rage and powerlessness, survival and hope, became the necessity of excavating and composing Aberfan, my work about the 1966 coal mining disaster in Wales – the crushing, dismembering experience of a man-made landslide upon a schoolhouse. I can only assume a sympathetic situation had existed within myself from the very beginning: a spontaneous child disavowed.

Laura Siersema is a composer, pianist, vocalist, and poet. Learn more about her ambitious Aberfan, which is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization.

photo from the process of creating the “Altered Interlude” in Laura Siersema’s ABERFAN.

 

How Have Mentors Affected Your Art?

ArtSake is a place to dig into the creative, innovative work of Massachusetts artists. It’s hosted by Massachusetts Cultural Council, the state’s agency supporting arts, humanities, and sciences.

Periodically, they pose questions to artists about issues they face in their work and lives. This month, they asked practitioners in a variety of disciplines, Have you had any important mentors? Who have they been, and how did they affect you?

I am honored to have been asked to answer this question.

Photo from the process of creating “Altered Interlude” in Laura Siersema’s ABERFAN.  

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 extent allowed by law.

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.

Studio Walk

There is still time to make your year-end tax deductible donation!

Donate Now

For the past two days, we have been in the studio finishing the piano parts!  Here’s a little tour going from the control room to the piano room and back:

What a gift to be able to work!

Your contribution ensures the recording of Aberfan continues!  Please give what you can and tell two friends!

Aberfan is a sponsored project  of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  All  donations are tax deductible.

Thank you!

Almost Halfway There!

In just a few days, $175 has come in!  Fantastic!  Join them with your tax deductible gift today.

A total of $8370 has been raised!  With gifts ranging from $10 to $2250, individuals, small non-profit foundations and institutions are helping us get closer to the recording of Aberfan being a reality!

$1630 more will get us halfway there!  Please give what you can and tell two friends!

Donate Now

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.

Thank you!

Every Gift Matters

I am grateful to every listener and believer in this mission!

Your support is critical to the success of Aberfan.  For a project this large, every donation makes an impact!

Donate Now

$8220 has been raised!  With gifts ranging from $15 to $2250, individuals, non-profit foundations and institutions are helping to make the recording and presentation of Aberfan a reality!  Join them with your tax deductible gift today!

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.

Why Art Matters: “Aberfan”

Art connects us not only to the symbolic life of the soul, bringing light to darkness, but to external events that caution us.  Art stretches our minds and hearts, eliciting change where we had not felt before.

Donate Now

Over this week, $515 has been contributed, raising the total to $8,195!  Fantastic!  Join them with your tax deductible gift today.

$11,805 more will enable us to complete the studio recording of Aberfan.

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.

$7680 Raised for “Aberfan”

The end-of-the-year fundraiser continues.  It’s not too late to support Aberfan!

Donate Now

So far, individuals, institutions and non-profit foundations have contributed a total of $7,680. Join them with your tax deductible gift today.

$12,320 more will enable us to complete the recording, which is necessary for use in live performance and installation.  Express your support of independent creative art whose effect is to incite change.

In the words of one donor:  “This wonderful piece of music with its visual component has the ability to educate people about issues as large as the industrial rape of the landscape and the environment. We have visited parts of the country that have been ‘saved’ by fracking, and the people with jobs aren’t looking down the future at what they are doing to the earth.”  By addressing the visceral, personal experiences of the disaster, Aberfan investigates how art, together with technology, can be used for experiential healing, while implying the disaster’s universal relevance as an almost-forgotten humanitarian crime.  ACT NOW.

Give what you can and share this story with a friend. 

Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  All donations are tax deductible.