The music of American composer David T. Little has been described by New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini as “dramatically wild…rustling, raunchy and eclectic,” while New Yorker critic Alex Ross says “every bad-ass new-music ensemble in the city will want to play him.” Little’s highly theatrical, often political compositions draw upon his experience as a rock drummer and fuse classical and popular idioms to dramatic effect.
His music has been performed in cities throughout the world, including Dresden, London, Edinburgh, Los Angeles, and Montreal, and at the Tanglewood, Aspen, MATA and Cabrillo Festivals by such performers as the London Sinfonietta, eighth blackbird, So Percussion, ensemble courage, the NOW Ensemble, the New World Symphony, 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 Albany Symphony, the New World Symphony, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the University of Michigan, and Dawn Upshaw’s Vocal Arts program at the Bard Conservatory.
Upcoming projects include the opera Dog Days in 2011, with director Robert Woodruff and librettist Royce Vavrek, and new works for violinist Todd Reynolds, violist Nadia Sirota, pianist Kathleen Supové, cellist Brian Snow, baritone Scott Guinn, Third Coast Percussion, the New World Symphony, and Newspeak.
Little founded the amplified octet Newspeak, for which he is also the drummer and artistic director, in 2004. 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 the boundaries between the classical and rock traditions. Newspeak will release its first CD of commissioned works in November 2010 on New Amsterdam Records.
Little holds degrees from Susquehanna University (2001), The University of Michigan (2002) and Princeton University (2006), where he is currently completing a Ph.D. in composition. His principal teachers have included Osvaldo Golijov, Paul Lansky, Steven Mackey, William Bolcom, and Michael Daugherty. He currently teaches music in New York City through Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections program and serves as the inaugural Digital Composer-in-Residence for London-based DilettanteMusic.com.
Although it might appear that the two works submitted here occupy different points on the musical spectrum, they are nonetheless unified by their source of inspiration: people’s everyday struggles, be they political, economic, or emotional. The exploration of these struggles has always been an important part of my work and is what has brought me to compose theatrical music with an explicitly political message. These elements—combined in equal part with my experience as a rock musician—have helped form my compositional voice.