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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 operas Dog Days, JFK, and Vinkensport (librettos by Royce Vavrek), and Soldier Songs have been widely acclaimed, “prov[ing] beyond any doubt that opera has both a relevant present and a bright future” (The New York Times).

Other recent works include the earthen lack (London Sinfonietta / BGSU), The Conjured Life (Cabrillo Festival / Cristian Macelaru), Ghostlight—ritual for six players (eighth blackbird / The Kennedy Center), AGENCY (Kronos Quartet), and dress in magic amulets, dark, from My feet (The Crossing / ICE). Little is currently composing a new opera with Royce Vavrek, commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera / Lincoln Center Theater new works program, and the music-theatre work Artaud in the Black Lodge with poet Anne Waldman (Beth Morrison Projects).

This season, the Miller Theatre spotlights Little on its renowned Composer Portrait series, presenting the New York premiere of AGENCY alongside Haunt of Last Nightfall, performed by ACME and Third Coast Percussion, respectively. JFK makes its European debut at Staatsteater Augsburg, and Soldier Songs receives its German premiere in Saarbrücken.

Little’s music has been presented by the LA Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, LA Opera, the Park Avenue Armory, Holland Festival, BAM Next Wave, and Opéra de Montréal. He has previously served as Executive Director of MATA and on the board of directors at Chamber Music America, and currently chairs the composition program at Mannes—The New School. From 2014–2017, he was Composer-in-Residence with Opera Philadelphia and Music-Theatre Group. The founding artistic director of the ensemble Newspeak, his music can be heard on New Amsterdam, Innova, and National Sawdust Tracks labels.

Photo by Merri Cyr

DOG DAYS (excerpt): Act I Summer, Scene 2: Friends

Act I, Scene 2 “Friends” from DOG DAYS (2012), featuring Lauren Worsham (Lisa), John Kelly (Dogman/Prince) and Marnie Breckenridge (Mother). Recording released on National Sawdust Tracks in 2016, recorded live in performance at REDCAT in Los Angeles, in a Beth Morrison Projects production, presented by LA Opera. The ensemble is Newspeak, conducted by Alan Pierson.

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dress in magic amulets, dark, from My feet (2016)

“dress is magic amulets, dark, from My feet” explores the historic use of crucifixion nails as magic or medicinal amulets. Inspired by both Catholic rituals and the ritualistic nature of extreme drone metal, the work seeks to create a meditative, almost unearthly space, where a post-modern Christ figure comments on the practice of crucifixion, the ghastly use of crucifixion nails, and the complexities of His own death in the context of the salvation narrative.

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Haunt of Last Nightfall (2010)

A “ghost play in two acts” for percussion quartet and electronics, HAUNT OF LAST NIGHTFALL uses deconstructed narratives based on historical research to explore the horrific 1981 massacre of the village of El Mozote, El Salvador by US-trained and funded Salvadoran government troops. Commissioned by Grammy Award-winning Third Coast Percussion, it was released on New Amsterdam Records in in 2013. It is a companion piece to the 2013 work AGENCY, for string quartet and electronics.

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NewMusicBox Articles

Articles August 15 2007 | By David T. Little
Memories Are Better Off Sung

Although memory is suggested in much of the prolific output of The Fiery Furnaces, nowhere is it more focused than in their 2005 release Rehearsing My Choir, which tells the...