David T. Little

DAVID T. LITTLE is “one of the most imaginative young composers” on the scene (The New Yorker) with “a knack for overturning musical conventions” (the New York Times). His “sharp, elegantly bristling” music (New York magazine) is potent and dramatic, drawing as much upon his experience as a punk/metal drummer as his classical pedigree. In his work he often undertakes political and existential themes, most recently gaining attention for success writing for larger forces.

The Wall Street Journal called Little’s first full-length opera, Dog Days, “one of the most exciting new operas of recent years,” and the New York Times cited it as one of two highlights of the season, stating that the work “proved beyond any doubt that opera has both a relevant present and a bright future.” John Rockwell, writing forOpera magazine wrote “This is [Little’s] first full-length opera; it will not be his last.” Fort Worth Opera and Los Angeles Opera will present Dog Days in 2015.

Likewise, Little’s multi-media music theatre work, Soldier Songs, based on interviews with veterans of five wars, received its New York City premiere on the inaugural PROTOTYPE Festival and will travel to the Holland Festival this June. George Loomis, for Musical America, said, “[Little] has earned acclaim for the imaginative way he draws on his varied musical interests to produce arresting and coherent works. One might have expected some sort of stylistic hybrid, but Little’s music falls comfortably within the modern-day ‘classical’ idiom, his allusions to pop adding rhythmic verve and melodic appeal.” Seth Colter Walls, for eMusic, concluded that the piece was “thrillingly done”.

The Baltimore Symphony, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, New World Symphony and Albany Symphony have commissioned pieces from Little. Alan Pierson led the world premiere of Am I Born, a 30-minute oratorio incorporating shape-note hymnody, with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Brooklyn Youth Chorus and soprano Mellissa Hughes (2012). The Los Angeles Philharmonic included Little’s haunted topography in its 2013 Brooklyn Festival, performed by DIY chamber orchestra, wild Up. Marin Alsop has conducted two premieres from Little including the world premiere of CHARM, a 10-minute orchestral piece that nods to Baltimore’s streets and neighborhoods via its “Charm City” nickname. Speaking in The Baltimore Sun, Alsop said, “David is a real talent whose work has deservedly gained wide-spread recognition in recent years.”

Several of David’s works are currently on tour. A recording of Haunt of Last Nightfall has just been released on the bustling independent classical label, New Amsterdam Records, with a tour by Chicago’s Third Coast Percussion. As part of its 40th anniversary season, Kronos Quartet commissioned and premiered AGENCY, and is planning tours in upcoming seasons. Meanwhile “cello goddess” Maya Beiser commissioned Hellhound for her current “All Vows” tour.

Little is the founding artistic director and drummer for the amplified chamber ensemble Newspeak.  Hailed as “potent” (TheRestIsNoise.com), “innovative” (New York magazine), and “fierce” (Time Out New York), Newspeak explores the relationship of music and politics, while confronting head-on the boundaries between the classical and the rock traditions. Newspeak released its first CD of commissioned works in November 2010, to critical acclaim. “You could call this punk classical,” Lucid Culture proclaimed, noting that the disc is “fearlessly aware, insightfully political (and) resolutely defiant.”  They have been featured at the Park Avenue Armory, on the Ecstatic Music Festival, on the 25th anniversary Bang On A Can Marathon and will make their international debut at the 2014 Holland Festival.

Little’s music has been performed throughout the world—including in Dresden, London, Edinburgh, San Francisco, LA, Montreal, and at the Tanglewood, Aspen, MATA and Cabrillo 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, 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, the New World Symphony, the Kennedy Center’s Fortas Chamber Music Concerts, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the University of Michigan, and Dawn Upshaw’s Vocal Arts program at the Bard Conservatory, among others.

He holds degrees from Susquehanna University (2001) and The University of Michigan (2002) and Princeton University (PhD, 2011), where his research explored the intersection of music and politics. His primary teachers have included Osvaldo Golijov, Steven Mackey, Paul Lansky, William Bolcom, and Michael Daugherty.  He has taught music in New York City schools and shelters 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 New Music Bake Sale, fostering contemporary classical community annually in Brooklyn. From 2010-2012, he served as the Executive Director of New York’s MATA Festival. Since 2012, he has served as the Director of Composition and Coordinator of New Music at Shenandoah Conservatory. He is currently composer-in-residence with Opera Philadelphia.

His music can be heard on New Amsterdam Records and Innova Recordings.