Composers Festival spotlight: David T. Little

The Mizzou New Music Initiative is pleased to welcome David T. Little as one of the two distinguished guest composers for the 2021 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Called “one of the most imaginative young composers” by The New Yorker, he has been recognized particularly for his operas “Dog Days,” “JFK,” and “Vinkensport” (with librettos by Royce Vavrek), and “Soldier Songs,” which have been widely acclaimed, “prov[ing] beyond any doubt that opera has both a relevant present and a bright future,” according to the New York Times.

Little (pictured) holds degrees from Susquehanna University (2001), University of Michigan (2002), and Princeton University (PhD, 2011), where his research explored the intersection of music and politics.

He has served previously 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.

As a distinguished guest composer for the MICF, Little will give individual composition lessons to the resident composers; make a public presentation on his music; and consult with the groups who will be playing his music at the festival.

He’ll have two works performed at the 2021 MICF. Vocalist Karim Sulayman and resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound will debut the first part of Little’s new opera “What Belongs to You,” as part of the “World Premieres I” concert on Tuesday, July 27; and the Mizzou New Music Ensemble will perform his “descanso (waiting)” during the “Mizzou New Music” concert on Wednesday, July 28.

In addition to “What Belongs to You,” Little currently is composing a new solo cello work for virtuoso Matt Haimovitz, and also is developing a new work commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theater.

Other recent works include “hold my tongue,” performed at Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam; “the earthen lack” for London Sinfonietta; “Ghostlight—ritual for six players,” presented by Eighth Blackbird at the Kennedy Center; “AGENCY” for Kronos Quartet; “and dress in magic amulets, dark, from My feet” for The Crossing; and “Black Lodge” for Beth Morrison Projects.

Little’s music has been presented by the LA Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, LA Opera, the Park Avenue Armory, Holland Festival, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, BAM Next Wave, and Opéra de Montréal.

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, Sono Luminus, Centaur, and National Sawdust Tracks labels.

Little 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.

You can hear some samples of David T. Little’s music on his SoundCLoud page and in the embedded players below.

“It Is Time/I Have A Rendezvous” from “JFK,” performed by Laura Krumm (Jackie), Heather Johnson (Jaqueline O), Jessica Jones (Clara) and Djordge Nesic (music director, piano):

“Two Marines” from “Soldier Songs,” performed by Christopher Burchett (baritone), Zac Ballard (boy), and Newspeak. conducted by Todd Reynolds, during the 2013 Prototype Festival at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts in New York City.

A salon concert featuring the operatic works of David T. Little, performed by Lauren Flanigan, Lauren Worsham, Christopher Burchett, and David Adam Moore.

“Creators in Concert,” produced in 2015 by Opera America.