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.

21ST.OCTOBER 2020: ABERFAN 54TH ANNIVERSARY: Jeff Edwards

(Originally posted October 2016)

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.

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

On this 54th anniversary, I am reposting 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 his

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.

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

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

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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.

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.

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 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.

We began recording in the studio in September.