thoughts on art

Art is Radical: “Aberfan”

Memorial Garden, Aberfan

If truly creative, art is radical.

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

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

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.

(Originally posted February 2017.)

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 were and how things could have been.

MUSIC SAMPLES  of work in progress

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.

(Originally posted June 2015)

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

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.

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.

Underbelly, the 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.

Courtesy Alan George 2Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization. All donations are tax deductible.

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 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 this past September.

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.

Raining from “Aberfan”

Today it’s raining.  I can hear the drops on our metal roof.  This is how it was when I was working on the Rain Sequence of Aberfan — realizing that rain falls haphazardly, scattershot, as if random.  Yet it is a precisely created pattern.

Here is the very beginning of Aberfan, a few minutes of rainone piano entering after the other.

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

Photograph IC Rapoport, Aberfan 1966