music sample

Aberfan Disaster: Final Tribute

aberfan final tribute no sound THUMBNAIL_3Here is one frame of the footage that I discovered at the AP Archives that had no sound — 5 minutes of film taken at the mass burial of 81 children and one adult on October 27, 1966.

“Loving Shepherd of Thy Sheep” was sung at the service on the hillside.  Here is a short demo excerpt from Aberfan, Final Hymn:

 

 

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.  Your contribution helps ensure that we can continue to create the studio recording of Aberfan.

 

 

 

A most beautiful story and Music from “Aberfan”

The 50th anniversary, October 21, 2016.South Wales Police Museum

Aberfan: The mistake that cost a village its children

By Ceri Jackson, BBC News

Here are a few short samples from our first studio sessions for Aberfan.

First, “Rain Sequence”, the layering of pianos at the beginning of the piece.  

Second, “First Hymn”, a demo excerpt of “All Things Bright and Beautiful”.  The children were to sing it on the day of the disaster before they went home. 

“Rock Sequence”, the catastrophic collapse.  

Last, an excerpt of “Altered Rain”, the impossibility and hope of life forever altered as people descend back into the village following the mass funeral. 

In deepest honor.

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.

Photo courtesy of Alan George

Sunrise on “Aberfan”

AberfanPantglasSchoolCourtesy of Alan GeorgeFriday morning at 7:30am, October 21st, 1966, was ironically “calm and sunny”.

Though there had been “over a week of heavy rainfall”, there were “no reports of rain [on the morning of the landslide]…the images all seem to show dry but dull conditions”.

Demo excerpt “Sunrise”:  

Aberfan  is a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501 (c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  Contributions are tax deductible and will go towards the studio recording, which begins later this month.

Thank you to Dave Petley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom for all his help providing facts during my time of research.  American Geophysical Union Blogosphere

Photo of Pantglas School courtesy of Alan George.

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, Aberfan is a full length composition that uses 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 both in live performance and immersive installation with black & white photographs — such as the one above — taken by Life photo  journalist IC Rapoport, who went to Aberfan to “photograph the psychic mess”.

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

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

 

“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.

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

How with this rage shall beauty…

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 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 Disaster, 1966

(Thanks to Robert Bielecki for the quote.)

“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 

“Aberfan” (Rain Sequence with first collapse, excerpt)

Rain Sequence — an intuitive formula of prime numbers, of fate and their irrevocable movement — increasing failure, descent and dissolution —

The disaster itself occurred on 21st October 1966 at about 9:15 am.  The day was calm and sunny at 7:30 am, when the team of men responsible for the dumping of mine waste on Tip 7 arrived for work.  At the top they found the tip had subsided by about three metres.  (The Landslide Blog)

Here is a demo sample of 7 pianos:

To contribute to the recording of Aberfan, please go to www.tinyurl.com/FundAberfan.

Photo IC Rapoport, 1966

“Aberfan” 9/8 bar – Trauma – 2nd Altered Interlude

9/8 bar – Trauma – 2nd Altered Interlude

“The dreadful calamity of the Aberfan landslide disaster remains perhaps the most poignant and memorable disaster in the UK since the Second World War.  The combination of a failure of responsibility by the relevant authorities, the dreadful events in the moment of the landslide, the heroic but mostly futile rescue attempts, and the appalling behaviour of some parties in the aftermath of the disaster created an extraordinary mix…”  AGU Blogosphere

Large art projects like this cannot be done without your contributions.  To ensure that Aberfan is recorded, make your tax deductible donation here:  www.tinyurl.com/FundAberfan.

(Pantglas Junior School, Aberfan, 1966.  Photo courtesy of AGU Blogosphere)

“Aberfan” (Laura Siersema Trio, 2010)

To help make sure Aberfan (7 pianos, percussion, voice and tools of rescue) can be recorded, make online contributions at:  http://tinyurl.com/FundAberfanhttp://tinyurl.com/FundAberfan

Some history in the process of composing Aberfan — here’s a video excerpt from one of our first rehearsals of “Aberfan”, the second arrangement I’d ever done of my Mom’s song.  I kept most of her lyrics and melody, but played quite a bit with the music, adding the instrumental interlude that you’ll hear, with Wim Auer on fretless bass and Billy Klock on drums.  This was the intermediate phase in the evolution of this song, while it was yet a folk song.  We used to practice at Wim’s house in Brattleboro on Tuesday nights.  I love these guys, I loved playing with them and the way they inspired the music!  (Full song at bottom of post.)

Aberfan (written by Dinny Coates Siersema, 1966)

In the small Welsh town of Aberfan
for days the rain did fall
down on the heart of Aberfan
the mountain began to crawl

The little children of Aberfan
were in their school that day
when the big coal mountain above them high
began to rumble and sway

Oh the big black mountain of rock and slag
began to tumble down
it buried the children in the ground
in a town called Aberfan.

They worked with their picks all through the day
dug with their shovels and hands
kept on digging all through the night
in a town called Aberfan

They dug two trenches for their graves
placed green bracken ’round
the dead they numbered eighty and one
and they laid them in the ground

Oh the big black mountain of rock and slag
began to tumble down
no children are playing there.
it buried the children in the ground
in a town called Aberfan.