When the World’s on Fire

for saxophone quartet

Kevin Malone

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for saxophone quartet

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Composer Kevin Malone
Year of Composition 2019
Duration ca.4'
ISMN 9790570682898

Categories (all composers) , ,
Catalogue ID ce-km1wtwof1


After two difficult years trying to write a saxophone quartet about clean water activists in the USA and UK, I finally completed The Water Protectors on 15 October 2019. Afterward, I immediately had a thirst to write a sort of overture to that work, a set of variations, not about water but about fire.

When the World’s on Fire is a four-minute set of variations on a folk song of the same name, although its original name was “Oh, My Loving Brother” composed in the 19th Century.  In 1940, Woody Guthrie slightly reshaped the melody for his iconic folk song “This Land is Your Land”.  No matter which title comes to mind, the same sentiment prevails: the Earth and its natural resources are precious.  The variations conjure up images of country & western bands, flowing rivers, fracking drills, solidarity singing, a funeral march and a giddily ecstatic revivalist choir.

When the World’s on Fire was premiered by the Ebonit Saxophone Quartet in an impromptu concert on 29 November 2019 in the disused, unheated meeting room of the Former Bridge St Church in Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK.  The concert was given to thank the local Youth4Climate strike action group for their activism.

Ebonit recorded this work on Metiér CD MSV28578 for release in Autumn 2020.