David T. Little’s potently dramatic music draws upon his experience as a rock drummer, and fuses classical and popular idioms to powerful effect. Often undertaking political and existential themes, he has been described by The New York Times as having “a knack for overturning musical conventions…an accomplished theatrical creator.” The New Yorker has called him, “one of the most imaginative young composers on the music-theatre scene.”
His music has been performed throughout the world—including in Dresden, London, Edinburgh, 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, 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, the Baltimore Symphony, the Albany Symphony, the New World Symphony, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the University of Michigan, and Dawn Upshaw’s Vocal Arts program at the Bard Conservatory.
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 Dog Days 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 for Opera (UK) wrote “This is (Little’s) first full-length opera; it will not be his last.”
Little’s multi-media music theatre work, Soldier Songs (2006), based on interviews with veterans of five wars, received its New York City premiere in January 2013 on the inaugural PROTOTYPE Festival. Recent works include Haunt of Last Nightfall for Third Coast Percussion, RADIANT CHiLD for the New World Symphony, Conspiracy Theory for Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society–a new music big band–CHARM for the Baltimore Symphony under Marin Alsop, haunted topography, for Alarm Will Sound, and Am I Born for the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Brooklyn Youth Chorus and soprano Mellissa Hughes, under Alan Pierson. Upcoming projects include new works for the London Sinfonietta, Newspeak, cellist Maya Beiser, violinist Todd Reynolds, the Kronos Quartet, a new multi-media theater work, Artaud in the Black Lodge with legendary Outrider poet Anne Waldman, and a new opera, JFK (working title), commissioned by the Fort Worth Opera and American Lyric Theater. Little was mostly recently awarded a commission from The Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theater as part of their new works program.
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. A New Amsterdam Records artist, Newspeak released its first CD of commissioned works in November 2010, to critical acclaim. “You could call this punk classical,” one critic 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, and on the 25th anniversary Bang On A Can Marathon.
He holds degrees from Susquehanna University (2001) and 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 schools and shelters through Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections program, served as the inaugural Digital Composer-in-Residence for the UK-based DilettanteMusic.com. 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.
His music is published by Project Schott New York, and can be heard on New Amsterdam Records and Innova Recordings.
[current as of 10.14.13]