UK history

“Aberfan” One woman’s elegy for a Welsh village’s young disaster victims

Over one year ago, Richie Davis wrote this powerful story for the Greenfield Recorder, our local paper.  Our interview together was the first I had spoken publicly about the composition that had been underway for years.

Aberfan – One Woman’s elegy for a Welsh village’s young disaster victims

Aberfan – One Woman’s elegy for a Welsh village’s young disaster victims (page 2)

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.

Photo courtesy of AGU Blogosphere, Aberfan 1966

(Originally posted April 2016)

Tragedy at Aberfan

“Tragedy is not deep and sharp if it can be shared with friends.”  Varlam Shalamov, The Kolyma Tales 

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.

How do you personally account for a violation of this kind except through one’s own soul? 

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 2018.)

“Aberfan”: Rain – Rubble, Altered Interlude, Final Hymn (Altered)

Photo IC Rapoport, Aberfan, 1966

An extended excerpt of piano parts from Aberfan — survivors resuming the impossibility and despair 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.

(Originally posted June 2016)

ABERFAN 54TH ANNIVERSARY 10.21.20 “How with this rage…”

How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea… —Shakespeare, Sonnet 65

“Rain Sequence”, pianos, Aberfan — it has started to rain, the composition begins.  In this demo sample, as single pianos enter one after the other, you listen to the gradual dissolution of harmony.

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.

Getty images, Aberfan, October 21, 1966

21ST.OCTOBER 2020: Remember ABERFAN — Jeff Edwards

(Originally posted October 2016)

I came across this yesterday and was astounded by Jeff’s straightforward honesty.  Surviving an event impossible for any of us to imagine, unless one were there, with 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.

21st.October 2020: Aberfan 54th Anniversary — Meet Detective Sargeant Charles Nunn

Charles Nunn story

(Originally posted November 2015.)

Over a year ago, Charles Nunn contacted me, offering help for my project, Aberfan.

Here is the story he wrote in 1987.  TheDisasterOfAberfan_CharlesNunn_ThePoliceReview_

From one of our email exchanges, his words:  “The team in the mortuary were composed entirely of Regional Crime Squad Officers drawn from all over Wales….We were tasked to set up a mortuary, and identify the 144 victims of the disaster. I was designated the Senior Identification Officer and worked with my team in the mortuary at Bethania Chapel in Moy Road, Aberfan for 15 days until the last body, and body piece, was identified.

Aberfan was a small village. No police station, no town hall, no gymnasium which was why we had to use the totally inadequate facilities of the Sunday school room at the rear of the chapel for receiving, washing the bodies etc. and the body of the chapel itself to place the bodies for viewing. Once a body had been identified and the cause of death recorded by a pathologist, without exception asphyxiation and multiple crush injuries, Death Certificates needed to be issued.

It now sounds very incongruous and bizarre but they were issued from a local land mark, the village fish and chip shop.

In my handwriting, a notice was placed on the door of the chapel directing families to that location.”

I am deeply grateful for all that he has passed on to me.

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.

MONDAY 21st.OCTOBER 2019.

As the day of the 53rd anniversary of the Aberfan Disaster nears, I am reposting this story by Ceri Jackson, BBC News, written for the 50th anniversary of the Disaster.

Aberfan: The mistake that cost a village its children

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

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.

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!

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.

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.