BOSTON - One year after the Costa Concordia shipwreck, survivors Benji Smith and Emily Lau announce the simultaneous publication of a memoir detailing their experience escaping from the sinking ship and an album of original compositions inspired by the disaster.
The book, written by Smith and titled Abandoned Ship: An Intimate Account of the Costa Concordia Shipwreck, tells the story of the couple's harrowing journey escaping from the sinking vessel.
"I've never been so terrified in my life," says Smith. "When all the lifeboats left us behind, Emily and I truly thought we were going to die. This was our honeymoon cruise, but we actually said goodbye to each other."
The memoir follows Smith and Lau as they scavenged a rope from the deck of the ship and rappelled down the hull in search of rescue, and then through Rome as they struggled to find their way back home again, relying on the kindness of strangers to provide them with food, shelter, and clothing.
"This experience forced us to confront the fragility of our existence," says Lau. "But over the past year, paradoxically, it also gave us courage. The courage to seek justice for this catastrophe, and the courage to find beauty even when justice is elusive. That's really what this album is all about: when life gives you a shipwreck, make shipwreck music."
Lau draws from her experience as an active touring classical musician to craft her new album, Isle of Lucidity. Grounded in medieval polyphony and colored with modern chromatic sonority, she develops a unique musical language and paints a series of vignettes, alternately depicting the seascape in turmoil and the hope of the survivors. With texts taken from a variety of eastern and western faith traditions, as well as the work contemporary poets, Lau asks the listener to accompany her on a journey in search of truth and beauty in the aftermath of a tragedy.
According to Smith, "The sinking of our honeymoon cruise ship was just the first step on a much bigger spiritual journey. Now we're finally ready to share that journey with the rest of the world, through stories and songs."