David T. Little

David T. Little
New Jersey
ResidenceWeehawken, New Jersey
Alma materUniversity of Michigan, Princeton
Notable work
Dog Days, JFK

David T. Little (born October 25, 1978) is an American composer and drummer known for his orchestral and operatic works, most notably his opera Dog Days which was named a standout opera of recent decades by The New York Times.[1] He is the artistic director of Newspeak, an eight-piece amplified ensemble that explores the boundaries between rock and classical music,[2] and is a member of the composition faculty at Mannes School of Music.[3]


Little's music has been performed throughout the world—including in Dresden, London, Leipzig, Edinburgh, Zürich, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Montreal, and at the Tanglewood, Aspen, MATA, Cabrillo and Holland Festivals—by such performers as the London Sinfonietta, Alarm Will Sound, eighth blackbird, So Percussion, wild Up, ensemble courage, Dither, NOW Ensemble, PRISM Quartet, the New World Symphony, Third Coast Percussion, Beth Morrison Projects, Peak Performances, American Opera Projects, the New York City Opera, the Grand Rapids Symphony and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop. He has received awards and recognition from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Meet The Composer, the American Music Center, the Harvey Gaul Competition, BMI, and ASCAP, and has received commissions from Carnegie Hall, Kronos Quartet, Maya Beiser, the Baltimore Symphony, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the New World Symphony, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the University of Michigan, and Dawn Upshaw's Vocal Arts program at the Bard College Conservatory of Music, among others.

Recent projects include the operas JFK (Thaddeus Strassberger, director; Royce Vavrek, librettist), and Dog Days (Robert Woodruff, director; Royce Vavrek, librettist),[4] Haunt of Last Nightfall for Third Coast Percussion, AGENCY, commissioned by the Kronos Quartet as part of its 40th anniversary season,[5] Ghostlight—ritual for six players for eighth blackbird,[6] dress in magic amulets, dark, from My feet for the combined forces of The Crossing and International Contemporary Ensemble.[7] Upcoming works include: a new work for the London Sinfonietta, the theater work Artaud in the Black Lodge, with a libretto by legendary Outrider poet Anne Waldman, a new work being developed as part of The Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theater's new works program,[8] and several unannounced projects. Little's and the sky was still there was released Todd Reynold's Outerborough, on Innova records.[9] Hellhound, commissioned by Maya Beiser for her "All Vows" and "Uncovered" tours, has been included on her TranceClassical album.[10]

Little holds degrees from Susquehanna University (2001), the University of Michigan (2002) and Princeton University (PhD, 2011), and his primary teachers have included Osvaldo Golijov, Paul Lansky, Steven Mackey, William Bolcom, and Michael Daugherty. He has taught music in New York City through Carnegie Hall's Musical Connections program, served as the inaugural Digital Composer-in-Residence for the UK-based DilettanteMusic.com. He is a founder of the annual New Music Bake Sale, and served as the Executive Director of New York's MATA Festival from 2010 until 2012. Since 2014 has served as Composer-in-Residence with Opera Philadelphia and Music-Theatre Group, and recently joined the composition faculty at Mannes School of Music in New York City.[11][12][13] His music is published by Boosey & Hawkes.

Stage works

Soldier Songs: A 60-minute multimedia work for baritone and amplified septet composed in 2006,[14] the opera Soldier Songs explores the perceptions versus the realities of a soldier, the exploration of loss and exploitation of innocence, and the difficulty of expressing the truth of war.[15]

Am I Born: The 30-minute oratorio for soprano, children's chorus and orchestra, Am I Born, premiered in 2012 as part of "Brooklyn Village", a multi-media concert co-produced and presented by the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Brooklyn Youth Chorus and Roulette. Alan Pierson conducted the Brooklyn Philharmonic, soprano Mellissa Hughes and members of both the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and BYCA's Young Men's Ensemble.[16]

Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera: Commissioned and premiered in 2010 by Bard College Conservatory of Music, Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera is a one-act operatic comedy about the Flemish folk-sport of finch-sitting. The piece was subsequently featured in New York City Opera's VOX: Contemporary Opera Lab,[17] and was staged by soprano Lauren Flanigan at Shenandoah Conservatory.[18]

Dog Days: The first full-length collaboration with Royce Vavrek yielded the three-act opera Dog Days which premiered at Peak Performances @ Montclair State in association with Beth Morrison Projects on September 29, 2012, in a staging by director Robert Woodruff. The work starred Lauren Worsham as Lisa, a 13-year-old girl who befriends a man in a dog suit begging for scraps during a post-apocalyptic wartime scenario. Ronni Reich of The Star-Ledger wrote of Little's score: "Little's music thrashes, with dark, epic, chaotic heavy rock inspiration meeting lurching, bellowed vocal lines. ... [it is] stylistically diverse but cogent, fusing impeccable classical vocal writing, heavy metal, and musical theater."[19]

The piece began as a commission from Carnegie Hall when Little was chosen to compose a 20-minute work of music theater as part of Dawn Upshaw and Osvaldo Golijov's workshop in collaboration with singers from Bard Conservatory.[20] Alan Pierson, the conductor of the performance at Zankel Hall returned to conduct Newspeak for the world premiere production in New Jersey.[21]

JFK: Little's follow-up to Dog Days with librettist Royce Vavrek is a grand opera commissioned by Fort Worth Opera, American Lyric Theater and Opéra de Montréal that focuses on the night before John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963. JFK premiered in Fort Worth, Texas, in April 2016.[22]


  1. ^ Tommasini, Anthony; Woolfe, Zachary; Fonseca-Wollheim, Corinna da; Smith, Steve; Oestreich, James R.; Schweitzer, Vivien (3 October 2017). "Critics Weigh In on Standout Operas of Recent Decades". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "About". newspeakmusic.org.
  3. ^ "Composition – Mannes". www.newschool.edu.
  4. ^ "Beth Morrison Projects". Beth Morrison Projects.
  5. ^ "Kronos Quartet". kronosquartet.org.
  6. ^ "MCA – Eighth Blackbird with Bonnie "Prince" Billy Ghostlight". mcachicago.org.
  7. ^ "Who is 7R? – David T. Little". crossingchoir.com.
  8. ^ "Opera News – Metropolitan Opera Adds Three Composers to New-Works Program, Commissions Operas by Thomas Adès and Osvaldo Golijov". www.operanews.com.
  9. ^ "Outerborough – Todd Reynolds – Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
  10. ^ "TranceClassical – Maya Beiser – Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
  11. ^ "David Little". www.newschool.edu.
  12. ^ "About – David T. Little". davidtlittle.com.
  13. ^ Platt, Russell (14 January 2013). "Little Feat". The New Yorker. Retrieved 24 March 2014. (subscription required)
  14. ^ "David T. Little – Soldier Songs". www.boosey.com.
  15. ^ "Soldier Songs – Beth Morrison Projects". bethmorrisonprojects.org. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2014-03-16.
  16. ^ "Gesamtkunstwerk Grows Brookly". wqxr.org. Archived from the original on 2001-09-25. Retrieved 2014-03-16.
  17. ^ http://www.nycopera.com/calendar/view.aspx?id=13617New York City Opera Archived 2013-08-24 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Shenandoah University. "ISSUU – 2011-2012 Shenandoah Conservatory Performances by Shenandoah University". Issuu.
  19. ^ "Dog Days: Opera's savage side". NJ.com.
  20. ^ "Little, David T: Scenes from Dog Days Commission". carnegiehall.org.
  21. ^ "New Amsterdam Presents". New Amsterdam Presents. Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-03-16.
  22. ^ "Fort Worth Commissions JFK Opera". NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth.

External links

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