The City is Burning

Multi-Media Oratorio by composer Linda Chase

October 29, 2017


New England Conservatory
Brown Hall
290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA, USA

New England Conservatory’s Contemporary Improvisation Department will present “The City is Burning,” a multi-media oratorio by composer Linda J. Chase. As described by the composer, the piece draws on sacred texts and poetry in order to “inspire the hope and courage needed to speak out against destructive behaviors and rekindle a compassionate connection to all beings on the earth.” Commissioned in 2016 when Chase served as composer in residence at Old Cambridge Baptist Church, this production will feature vocalist Stan Strickland, vocalist and NEC CI faculty member Nedelka Prescod, Harvard Divinity School emeritus professor Rev. Dr. Harvey Cox, and an eighteen-voice chorus and instrumental chamber ensemble directed by Contemporary Improvisation Department co-chair Eden MacAdam-Somer.

In her original notes about the piece Chase wrote the following: “The soundscape of the 21st century is dominated by fragmentation, noise and distractions from a constant barrage of interruptions where our capacity to hear and respond to the earth’s expressions and the voice of the Spirit is being eroded. The City is Burning musically explores critical challenges of our time and reflects on what it means to listen to the inner voice, the quiet truth of the soul, recognizing that feelings of uneasiness might be an awakening from inaction to a place of active hope. Significant inspiration for this piece came from theologian Harvey G. Cox who led me to ponder the concept of a spiritual “shaking up,” the idea that what can be understood as the Spirit, God, or the inner voice might be a call to action. My other main inspiration came from Buddhist eco-philosopher Joanna Macy, who has observed: “if we are afraid to feel the grief, rage and fear about our world we become stuck, but can begin with gratefulness and move towards an active hope.”

Admission is free.