During the summer of 2004, I began to collaborate with my good friend, horn player Drew Stephen, on a piece for horn and "tape", beginning by making recordings of Drew performing the traditional horn fifths idiom. At around the same time, I recorded a thunderstorm (including within it the distant wail of sirens) from the window of my 3rd floor apartment in Riverdale (Toronto). The piece The city is burning emerged from the confrontation between these two very different soundscapes.
The title came much later. Strictly speaking, the words were overheard by chance in a coffee store, uttered in jest by one of the workers there. But I grabbed onto them as an articulation of a deeper preoccupation: the threat now posed to the world's great cities. The violence done to two particular cities weighed heavily upon me: the senseless terrorist attacks on New York City and the equally criminal assault on Baghdad.
(The tape part is encoded with the Ambisonics system, and in live performance is thus projected over an array of any number of loudspeakers. An adapation of the piece for trombone also exists. The stereo recording distributed by angelusnovus.net was made in late summer 2004 with Drew Stephen.)
David Ogborn. [email: david.ogborn (at) utoronto.ca]