thoughts on art

“Aberfan” Rain — Rubble


Aberfan articulates a broadening and deepening of artistic practice, far beyond what I’ve ever experienced, yet is inclusive of everything before it — the search, over years, for my own creative voice in composition.  Propelling itself through me, Aberfan is its own whole, symbol of what is most lacking in our world, as in our families and deep within ourselves, natural expression is desecrated and buried, just as our land is leveled.

Here is an excerpt of 2 pianos from Aberfan, the aftermath of a man-made disaster, a mix of rain and rubble.

Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  Make your contribution here.

“Aberfan (7 pianos, voice and tools of rescue)”

South Wales Police Museum6Aberfan  is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501 (c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  Contributions are tax deductible.

A difficult and singular endeavor that has carried itself through me over years (and will continue to do so) would be impossible to realize without the help from those for whom Aberfan resonates, whether personally, spiritually or environmentally.  For everyone that gives to this undertaking, know that its enduring and significant impact is now also in your hands.

Please make your contribution here to support the making of a studio recording.

Gratitude to Kelley

Kelley Kipperman has written a beautiful “retrospective / into the present” on our work together.  When we met, she was a student at Hampshire College and I had put out my third album, Talon of the Blackwater.

To be a creative artist (as Kelley is herself) is a singular, courageous act.  By definition, a true artists’ work, no matter the form, is subversive and challenging because it speaks in an individual voice most people can’t recognize.  For her ability to see my work, I am grateful.

She posted this about a month ago on Facebook, but I want everyone to be able to read it, so am re-posting it here.  Here are her words:

“four years ago now, Hintele Beyzn & i started a radio show called “waxwing at yurt radio” — with the idea of having live musicians come and play sets that we would broadcast live for anyone to listen to online.

we had many special folks come through and play on waxwing, and were lucky enough to have Laura Siersema come and share her sounds, words, and thoughts with us on several occasions. since first listening to and meeting laura, i felt a sense of deep appreciation for her and her work — it’s one of those beautifully soul-quaking feelings that you hear when sounds are swirling around your head and you feel them coming directly from someone’s heart, through their fingertips on the piano.

a little over a year ago now, laura got in touch with me to tell me about a project she had been conceiving of for quite some time at that point — a large and beautifully orchestrated piece based on a song her mother wrote regarding the aberfan disaster (1966) in wales.

this project, which she has entitled ABERFAN is a masterful and magical group of compositions that i so dearly hope can take the shape that she is aiming for it to.

laura and i have met several times, exchanged many emails, and spoken a lot about the project over the past year+. it holds a deep and gentle place in my heart and soul.

please take a moment to check out laura, her work, and aberfan. if aberfan strikes you as much as it does me, please donate through the new york foundation for the arts to help make aberfan become a reality. donate here :

Freedom in Art

That I drop down into this formless, dull space, that I actually stand on my own two feet — for here, in composition, I have absolutely no qualms, no questions, about what occurs in the end.  There is no thought to please, no external pressure of any kind.  Here is the only place I can go where I am free from the anxieties and weaknesses of relying, or expecting anything; the fullness of my own greater Self is all.  To stay within this realm of creative work and thought is the only necessity and any irritations arise from not doing so.

“Aberfan” (Rain Sequence, excerpt)

“This area of South Wales has a wet climate and the hillsides are marked by lines of springs.” (AGU Blogosphere)

Therefore, Aberfan begins with the Rain Sequence.  My workspace is in the attic and the idea to layer pianos originated as I listened to the rain on our metal roof so close above me.

Here is a short demo sample of 7 pianos, all playing the same part, entering moments slightly apart from one another, each with its own tempo.

To make sure that Aberfan can be recorded, please donate at

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 are and how things have been.

So that Aberfan can be recorded, please donate at