UK history

How with this rage shall beauty…

As the day of the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan Disaster nears, I am reposting this:

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

ABERFAN WALES 1966

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

Aberfan (7 pianos, percussion, voice and tools of rescue)  is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). Contributions are tax deductible.  Please support the making of this recording.

Photo by IC Rapoport, Aberfan, 1966

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 photojournalist 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.

Screenshot 2016-07-22 at 5.51.53 PM

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

thendara foundation

PFW_Header7-FINAL-WEB-sm

deupreefamilyfoundation

 

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.

A tragedy remembered: Aberfan, the village that lives in the shadow of the past

IMG_8629IMG_8631I was struck by this 2006 headline in an online British newspaper, The Independent.  In an article by Barrie Clement, the lingering severity of grief and vivid traumatic memories of the disaster in 1966 are spoken.

Here are a few photos of the Garden of Remembrance which stands on the site of Pantglas School, which was built between 1901 and 1922 and nearly destroyed in the landslide.  Photos were taken by Java Kitrick in a recent visit to Wales.  As President of Puffin Foundation West, she recently awarded a grant to Aberfan. 

IMG_8624

Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts.  Make a tax deductible donation  here to support the recording of this full length composition.

After Coal, documentary

AFTERCOAL-MTN-BLACK-STREET-SIGN-RGB

“What happens when fossil fuels run out? After Coal profiles inspiring individuals who are building a new future in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky and South Wales.”   Read more…

Recently, I came across this documentary that had its beginnings in 1974 “when political sociologist John Gaventa initiated a videotape conversation between coal miners in Wales and Appalachia. Appalachian scholar Helen Lewis expanded the exchange when she moved to Wales in 1975 to research coal mining culture. Working with filmmaker Richard Greatrex, Gaventa and Lewis made over 150 videotapes of daily life in South Wales.”

The film premieres in Wales next month!

I am fortunate enough too have been in touch with both Helen Lewis and Richard Greatrex, sharing with them my own compositional endeavor, Aberfan.

Amazing this confluence across time and place.

Please contribute to Aberfan for its studio recording.

 

“Aberfan”

Digging effort, Pantglas Junior School, Aberfan, Wales, October 21, 1966

9/8 bar – Trauma – 2nd Altered Interlude

Aberfan is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  Please join in the effort by making your contribution here.

Photo courtesy AGU Blogosphere

“Aberfan” First Hymn – Rock Sequence

“On the 21st of October 1966, 144 people, 116 of them children, were killed when a man-made mountain of coal waste slid onto the village of Aberfan in South Wales. The elementary school building was the first structure in its path and the school was demolished by a thousand tons of black mud.”  (IC Rapoport, Aberfan, 1966)

Here is a demo excerpt from my composition, Aberfan.

“All Things Bright and Beautiful” was sung at morning assembly on the day of the disaster.

To support the recording of this project, please make a tax-deductible contribution:  www.tinyurl.com/FundAberfan 

Visiting Aberfan Sunday

Welsh TV Channel  S4C added 4 new photos.

It’s almost 50 years since the tragedy of Aberfan. Roy Noble will be visiting the site and hears the personal experiences of Geoff Edwards and the late Geraint Stanley Jones. Sunday 7:30pm

An event as relevant today as it was nearly 50 years ago, for the damage we continue to bestow upon our environment and onto each other, as to our own interior landscape.

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 on behalf of Aberfan must be made payable to NYFA, and are tax-deductible.

Dr. Dave Petley, American Geophysical Union

11_05-Aberfan_Tip_Disaster_5 AGU Blogosphere

Back in May 2013, as I worked on the order of musical sequences for Aberfan, I came across Dave Petley’s article Remembering the Aberfan disaster — 45 years ago today.

An independent scientist – writer for the AGU Landslide Blog, living in the UK, Dave’s post was an overview of this tragedy and its enduring legacy in physical, social and psychological terms.  In this fuller context, I could picture and understand how the landslide occurred, what led up to it and what followed — crucial to the integrity of my music, Aberfan.

I wrote to him immediately.  Thus our communications began.

In June 2015, Dave posted Aberfan in his series “Landslides in Art”.

I want to thank him again, for all the factual information, alongside the moral support his interest in my project has garnered over the years.

DONATE to help make the recording and presentation of Aberfan possible.