Psychological trauma

Recording “Aberfan” — Please Support!

aberfan-memorial-garden-plaque-2Thank you to everyone who has contributed to support Aberfan!  During our first studio sessions in late September we recorded about a 1/3 of the piano parts in 11 hours!

If you have not done so already, please consider making a donation now!

This year end fundraising campaign ensures we are able to continue recording!  Here is what your donation will do:
  • $25-$99 Pays for up to to two hours in the studio — Receive download of completed recording and be listed on my website donor page.
  • $100-$499  Pays for studio time with one additional musician — All of the above plus a CD copy of completed recording.
  • $500-$999  Payment towards the percussionist and studio producer — All of the above plus 2 free CDs of your choice.
  • $1,000 and above Payment towards mixing and mastering engineers — All of the above plus an invitation to visit the studio as we work.

In this time of uncertain governmental support, YOU are helping to bring art into the world!

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.

DONATE NOW.

Aberfan is funded in part by Puffin West Foundation, Thendara Foundation, Puffin Foundation and Deupree Family Foundation.

Photo Aberfan Memorial Garden.

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.

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 (7 pianos, percussion, voice and tools of rescue)

ABERFAN WALES 1966On 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.

Envisioned at the crossroads of modern music, experimental media and environmental justice, my new composition Aberfan incorporates excerpts from a folk song my mother wrote following the 1966 disaster, as well as 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 in live performance, immersive installation and exhibition with black & white photographs — such as the one above — taken by Life photo  journalist IC Rapoport, who went to Aberfan to “photograph the psychic mess”.

MUSIC SAMPLES  of work in progress

By addressing the visceral, personal experiences of the disaster, Aberfan investigates how art, together with technology, can be used for experiential transformation, while implying the disaster’s universal relevance as an almost-forgotten humanitarian crime against a future generation.

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

DONATE

A psychological and spiritual rendering as much as a musical one, Aberfan is an excavation into my own soul. As Alice Miller discovered the trauma of her own childhood through spontaneous painting and wrote about in her many books, Aberfan propelled itself through me.  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.

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 tranquillity 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 and Deupree Family Foundation.

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

thendara foundation

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deupreefamilyfoundation

 

“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.

Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts.  Please make a donation towards its recording here.

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 chose to use in my own piece, cut out from Mom’s lyric.  The only word I changed is “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 in September.