David T. Little

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David T. Little
Born New Jersey
Residence Weehawken, New Jersey
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Michigan, Princeton
Occupation composer
Notable work Dog Days, JFK, Soldier Songs

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]


David T. 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 Festival, 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, the New World Symphony, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the University of Michigan, and Dawn Upshaw’s Vocal Arts program at the Bard Conservatory, 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 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]

In 2004, Little founded the amplified octet Newspeak, for which he is artistic director. 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.”

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 2010-2012. 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.

Opera and Oratorio[edit]


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.[14]

Dog Days[edit]

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’s] stylistically diverse but cogent, fusing impeccable classical vocal writing, heavy metal, and musical theater.”[15]

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.[16] Alan Pierson, the conductor of the performance at Zankel Hall returned to conduct Newspeak for the world premiere production in New Jersey.[17]

Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera[edit]

Commissioned and premiered by Bard Conservatory, 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,[18] and was staged by soprano Lauren Flanigan at Shenandoah Conservatory.[19]

Am I Born[edit]

The 30-minute work for soprano, children's chorus and orchestra, Am I Born, premiered 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.[20]

Soldier Songs[edit]

An evening-length multimedia work that 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.[21]

Concert works[edit]

Orchestral and large ensemble works[edit]

  • dress in magic amulets, dark, from My feet (2016) for choir and chamber orchestra
  • HAUNTED TOPOGRAPHY (2013) for orchestra
  • Screamer! - a three-ring blur for orchestra (2013) version for chamber orchestra
  • CHARM (2011) for orchestra
  • RADIANT CHiLD (2011) concertino for percussion quartet and chamber orchestra
  • haunted topography (2011) for sinfonietta
  • Conspiracy Theory (2010) for big band
  • The Closed Mouth Speaks (Seven Soldier Songs) (2009) for baritone and orchestra
  • East Coast Attitude (2006) for symphonic band
  • Immolation (2003) - for orchestra
  • Valuable Natural Resources (2004) for sinfonietta
  • how we got here (fourth evolution)(2003) for thirteen players
  • Screamer! - a three-ring blur for orchestra (2002) for orchestra

Chamber and solo works[edit]

  • Ghostlight—ritual for six players (2015) for flute, clarinet, percussion, piano, violin, and cello
  • Two Songs from Artaud in the Black Lodge (2015) version for solo cello and electronics
  • Hellhound (2013) for solo cello, bass, drums, and electronics
  • AGENCY (2013) for string quartet and electronics
  • and the sky was still there (2012) version for electric cello and playback
  • Haunt of Last Nightfall (2010) for percussion quartet and electronics
  • raw power (2010) for saxophone quartet
  • and the sky was still there (2010) for electric violin and playback
  • 1986 (2009) for string quartet
  • Musik für den Schultheiß (2006/2009) for string quartet
  • Shock Doctrine (2009) for solo snare drum
  • Tricky Bits (2007/2009) version for cl/b.cl, e-gtr, synth, drum set [2007]
  • Spalding Gray (2008) for fl, cl, pno, e-gtr, cb
  • Music for The Musical Illusionist (2007) for string quartet and electronics
  • Three Sams (etudes) (2007) for solo percussion
  • oh Gott, es regnet (2006) for electric guitar quartet
  • Red Scare Sketchbook (2005) for saxophone and percussion
  • Electric Proletariat (2005) for e-gtr, cl, e-vln, e-vcl, drum set, vibes, synth
  • descanso (waiting) (2004-2005) for fl, cl, vln, vcl, perc.
  • descanso (after omega) (2004) for solo clarinet and ensemble
  • Speak Softly (2004) for four percussionists playing sticks of varying bigness
  • for Amos (2004) for vln, vcl, pno
  • Piano Trio (2003-2004) for vln, vcl, pno
  • Sunday Morning Trepanation (2002) for vln, cl/b.cl, perc, pno and CD playback.
  • hope in the proles. (2002) for fl, cl/b.cl, pno, perc (1 player), vln, vcl

Chamber works with voice[edit]

  • It Is Time/I Have A Rendezvous - from JFK (2016) for 2 mezzo-sopranos, soprano and piano quintet
  • You Look Familiar/Written on the Palm - from JFK (2016) for baritone, mezzo-soprano and piano quintet
  • You Shiver - from JFK (2016) for mezzo-soprano and piano quintet
  • Two Mothers Arias from Dog Days (2014) for soprano and piano trio
  • Two Songs from Artaud in the Black Lodge (2013) for tenor, electronics, and rock band
  • archaeology (2012) for mezzo-soprano voice and piano (text, Royce Vavrek)
  • Last Nightfall (2011) for soprano, e-gtr, cl, e-vln, e-vcl, drum set, vibes, synth (text, Royce Vavrek)
  • To A Stranger (2010) for baritone and piano (text, Walt Whitman)
  • sweet light crude (2007) for soprano, e-gtr, cl, e-vln, e-vcl, drum set, vibes, synth.
  • Songs of Love, Death, Friends and Government (2004) for soprano, clarinet and violin [22]


  1. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/05/arts/music/critics-weigh-in-on-standout-operas-of-recent-decades.html?_r=0
  2. ^ "About". newspeakmusic.org. 
  3. ^ http://www.newschool.edu/mannes/composition/
  4. ^ http://www.bethmorrisonprojects.org/#!dog-days/c2049
  5. ^ http://kronosquartet.org/news/article/2082
  6. ^ https://mcachicago.org/Calendar/2016/03/Eighth-Blackbird-Bryce-Dessner-David-T-Little
  7. ^ http://www.crossingchoir.com/who-is-7r/2016/6/6/who-is-7r-david-t-little
  8. ^ http://www.operanews.com/Opera_News_Magazine/2013/10/News/Met_New_Works.html
  9. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/outerborough-mw0002112829
  10. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/tranceclassical-mw0002945164
  11. ^ http://www.newschool.edu/parsons/faculty.aspx?sc=PAGD,PAGS,PGFA,PGPH,PGTE,PUCD,PUDD,PUDT,&id=4e54-637a-4e44-5979
  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. ^ "Fort Worth Commissions JFK Opera". NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth. 
  15. ^ "'Dog Days': Opera's savage side". NJ.com. 
  16. ^ "Little, David T Scenes from Dog Days Commission - Carnegie Hall". carnegiehall.org. 
  17. ^ "New Amsterdam Presents". New Amsterdam Presents. 
  18. ^ http://www.nycopera.com/calendar/view.aspx?id=13617
  19. ^ Shenandoah University. "ISSUU - 2011-2012 Shenandoah Conservatory Performances by Shenandoah University". Issuu. 
  20. ^ "WQXR - New York's Classical Music Radio Station". wqxr.org. 
  21. ^ "Soldier Songs - Beth Morrison Projects". bethmorrisonprojects.org. 
  22. ^ http://www.boosey.com/cr/catalogue/ps/powersearch_results.asp?composerid=100155