Cracking the Code

In Cracking the Code, new music superstars ACME and Third Coast Percussion present two major works by leading American composer David T. Little: companion pieces that explore the tension between the individual, secrecy, and state violence.

Haunt of Last Nightfall, a visceral “ghost play in two acts” for percussion quartet and electronics, examines America’s role in the 1981 massacre at El Mozote, El Salvador. AGENCY, for string quartet and electronics, questions individual autonomy, whether we are subject to unknown and powerful social and political forces. When paired together, The New York Times described the music as “forthright, visceral, bloody, with the intimacy and polish of a classical chamber ensemble but bulging with the loud, reverberant sweatiness of rock.”

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Newspeak performs David T Little's Sweet Light Crude

Newspeak is an eight member amplified ensemble originally organized by David T. Little in 2001 in Ann Arbor, then reformed in New York in 2004 with Clarinetist Eileen Mack. Named after the though-limiting language in George Orwell’s 1984, Newspeak explores the grey area where art and politics mix. Through their programming, performances, and commissions, Newspeak seeks to reconsider, redefine, and ultimately reclaim the notion of socially engaged music and its place in contemporary society. Embedding elements of a rock band into a classical new music ensemble, Newspeak confronts the boundaries between the classical and the rock traditions.

New Music Bake Sale

New Music Bake Sale is an annual event co-sponsored by Newspeak which is designed to bring together the remarkably diverse New York new music community. It provides both a structure in which each participating group can increase knowledge about their activities, and an opportunity to raise funds through the sale of merchandise and goods, and through an silent auction, on-going throughout the evening.  The New Music Bake Sale recognizes that there is a lot more new music in the city than an individual could ever possibly take in.  In this it brings the new music to the audience–and thus brings a new audience to the music–in the spirit of community-building and camaraderie. Little served as project manager for this event from 2008-2010.

Soldier Songs

David T. Little's Soldier Songs

Since the premiere of Beth Morrison Projects production in 2011–directed by Yuval Sharon–Soldier Songs has worked to engage with veterans around the country. Whether in New York, New Haven, or Tallahassee, efforts have been made to reach out to local veteran communities, inviting members to attend performances–often at no cost, or with discounted ticket prices–and in many cases, providing safe spaces for discussion of their experience following the performances.

Starting in in the 2015-16 season, the dynamics shifted. At Atlanta Opera in 2015, the work was directed for the first time by a combat veteran, Tomer Zvulun. This production then traveled to San Diego Opera, where the company engaged with active military personnel for the first time on such a scale.  While SDO partnered with organizations like the USO and the Three Wise Men, Des Moines Metro Opera took things a step further, staging the work on the active military base Camp Dodge, where military personnel participated in the rehearsal process, advising the creative team in matters of authenticity.

As a result of these innovative and bold approaches by these companies, Soldier Songs has taken on a bridge-building function in these communities, connecting military and civilian audiences, pursuing empathetic pathways of communication, in ways not imagined when the piece was first composed.