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David T. Little Announces 23/24 Season: SIN-EATER in Philadelphia, Soldier Songs in Chicago, Vinkensport in San Francisco, and More

September 21, 2023 | By Katy Salomon
Primo Artists | VP, Public Relations

Katy Salomon | Primo Artists | VP, Public Relations 
katy@primoartists.com | 212.837.8466 

Composer David T. Little Announces 2023-2024 Season

Major New Choral Work SIN-EATER Premiered by The Crossing 
and Bergamot Quartet in Philadelphia at Penn Live Arts

Chicago Opera Theater Presents Concert Version of Soldier Songs 

New Version of Archaeology at Death of Classical in NYC

Opera Parallèle Performs Vinkensport at SF Jazz

Works at NYC’s Tenri Cultural Institute and Detroit Dance City Festivals

Matthew Haimovitz Tours The Crocus Palimpsest Throughout the U.S.

“emotional insight and charm, suggesting pop-music modes at times 
without ever resorting to pastiche” – The New York Times

“Little's music sets the nightmare to music with virtuosity:
it is always thrilling and always disturbing.” – Neue Musikzeitung 


New York, NY (September 21, 2023) – A natural musical storyteller with “a knack for overturning musical conventions” (The New York Times), composer David T. Little is known for stage, concert, and screen works permeated with eclectic influences and the power of the unexpected. Little readily probes the deep corners of human psychology, invoking religious, political, historical, spiritual, and social themes as pathways for exploring the human condition. He has drawn acclaim for operas including Dog Days, JFK, and the comedy Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera (all with libretto by Royce Vavrek), as well as his GRAMMY-nominated opera Soldier Songs. His broad catalog speaks to the mix of light and dark that we experience in life, unafraid to invoke the mythical, bewitching, disturbing, surreal, or comedic.

During the 2023-2024 season, Little’s compositions will be performed in programs ranging from comedy to dance – highlighted by the world premiere of his theatrical choral work SIN-EATER, co-commissioned by The Crossing and Penn Live Arts. Both commissioning partners will take part in the production’s world premiere performances and studio recording on Saturday, October 14 at 8:00pm and Sunday, October 15, 2023 at 3:00pm and 7:00pm at Penn Live Arts’ Harold Prince Theatre in Philadelphia, PA. The Crossing, conducted by Donald Nally, will perform alongside the renowned Bergamot Quartet.

SIN-EATER Photo by Maria Allen

In SIN-EATER, Little holds a mirror up to modern society through the ancient practice of paying the poor to ritualistically “eat” the sins of the rich. Upon a privileged person’s death, a loaf of bread would be placed atop the corpse and then consumed by a humbler member of the community – thus taking on the deceased person’s guilty deeds while he or she passed on to the next life unburdened. In this “ritual grotesquerie,” Little draws parallels to modern-day “sin-eaters” – soldiers, first responders, essential workers, social media content moderators – who absorb the ills of society, enabling others to lead safer, healthier, and oblivious lives. Over the course of the 70-minute choral work, Little weaves together texts from a wide range of eras to illuminate the connections across time: Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (French, 1755-1826), Stephen Crane (American, 1871-1900), Wilfred Owen (English, 1893-1918), Harold McGee (American, b. 1951), Claude McKay (Jamaican-American, 1890-1948), Anne Elizabeth Moore (American, b. 1971), Jonathan Swift (Irish, 1667-1745) and others. 

Among the other highlights of his season, a special concert version of Little’s acclaimed opera Soldier Songs – a poignant look at the realities of war, as told through interviews with military veterans – will be presented by Chicago Opera Theater at Chicago’s Epiphany Center for the Arts on Thursday, October 5, 2023 at 7:00PM. Baritone Nathan Gunn stars in his role debut, led by Lidiya Yankovskaya. Little’s “kaleidoscopic score” is a powerful fusion of classical and heavy-metal reflecting influences from “Aaron Copland’s Americana to blistering, Hendrix-style strings” (TimeOut New York).

Also returning to the stage is the comedic Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera, among Little’s first operatic works and the first of many celebrated collaborations with librettist Royce Vavrek. This playful work – about a trivial contest and the revealing light it sheds on its participants – has been described as “a portrait gallery of quirky, eccentric, and colorful characters” (Musical America) and “an opportunity to appreciate the lighter comedic style of the industrious Little-Vavrek team” (Classical Voice North America). In four performances held from Friday, April 5 to Sunday, April 7, 2024, Vinkensport will be staged by Opera Parallèle at SF Jazz in San Francisco as part of “Birds & Balls,” a double bill with Laura Karpman and Gail Collins’ comic opera Balls.

This season also brings two separate productions of Little’s how we got here, a dance piece for 13 players, originally commissioned by Terpsichore’s Kitchen Dance Theatre for the 2003 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. On Friday, September 8, 2023 the piece was performed by Detroit’s Terpsichore Collective at the Detroit Institute of Arts Film Theatre as part of the Detroit Dance City Festival’s Choreographers Showcase. On Friday, October 27 and Saturday, October 28, 2023, the piece will be presented along with a second dance piece, Come Here to Me, by Terpsichore Collective at the Riverside Arts Center in Ypsilanti, MI. Both works are choreographed by Aimee McDonald, Artistic Director of Terpsichore Collective, and will be restaged for the 20th anniversary of the dance works. The music for Come Here to Me was created by Little collaboratively with Jason Stein (bass clarinet) and Regina Sadowski (violin).

Little’s solo piano work Accumulation of Purposecomposed as a tribute to the nonviolent direct action that defined the Civil Rights-era Freedom Rides, will be performed Saturday, February 24, 2024 by Adam Sherkin as part of the Composers in Play series at New York’s Tenri Cultural Institute. National Sawdust Log memorably described the piece as “a work of pent-up terror and struggle, biting dissonances and needling chromatic corkscrews ... a sharp call to remember the titanic struggles that were required to expand the de facto boundaries of U.S. citizenship (struggles that are far from over).” This season, cellist Matthew Haimovitz continues to tour Little’s The Crocus Palimpsest throughout the U.S.

Little’s season also includes a residency and portrait concert at the Sacramento State Festival of New American Music, held Sunday, October 29 – Friday, November 3, 2023. In October 2023, two piano works by Little will appear on a new album Inner Circles by James Johnston of Newspeak, the amplified chamber ensemble founded by Little. A print piano-vocal score for Little’s grand opera JFK is due for release through Hal Leonard this season as well, aligning with the 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 2023.

David T. Little 2023-24 Season Calendar

Friday, September 8, 2023 at 7:00PM
Detroit Dance City Festival Presents Terpsichore Collective in how we got here
Detroit Institute of Arts Film Theatre | Detroit, MI

Link: www.terpsichorecollective.com/event-details/how-we-got-here-at-detroit-dance-city-festival-showcase 

Tuesday, October 3, 2023
CD Release of Inner Circles by James Johnston, featuring Little’s Elegy (monsters are real) and Accumulation of Purpose

Thursday, October 5, 2023 at 7:00PM
Chicago Opera Theater Presents Soldier Songs 
Epiphany Center for the Arts | Chicago, IL

Link: https://chicagooperatheater.org/season/soldier

Saturday, October 14, 2023 at 8:00PM and Sunday, October 15, 2023 at 3:00PM and 7:00PM
World Premiere of SIN-EATER by The Crossing and Bergamot Quartet
Conducted and Directed by Donald Nally
Penn Live Arts (Harold Prince Theatre) | Philadelphia, PA

Link: https://pennlivearts.org/event/sin-eater

Friday, October 27 and Saturday, October 28, 2023 at 7:00PM
Terpsichore Collective Perform how we got here and Come Here to Me
Riverside Arts Center | Ypsilanti, MI

Link: www.terpsichorecollective.com/event-details/what-we-hold-in-our-hands-2023-10-27-19-30

Friday, November 3, 2023 at 7:00PM
Portrait Concert and Keynote at Sacramento State Festival of New American Music:
featuring Ghostlight, RADIANT CHiLD, and selected arias from the operas JFK and Dog Days

Link: www.csus.edu/college/arts-letters/music/spotlight/fenam-festival.html 

Friday, November 3, 2023 at 7:30PM
James Johnston Performs Elegy (monsters are real) and Accumulation of Purpose
Sunnyhill Unitarian Church | Pittsburgh, PA

Link: www.sunnyhill.org (Livestream)

Thursday, November 9, 2023 at 8:00PM
Brian Snow and the Hilo Duo Performs Excerpts from the earthen lack
Cook Recital Hall | Michigan State University College of Music

Wednesday, November 29, 2023 at 6:30PM and 8:00PM
Blythe Gaissert and Sybarite 5 Premiere Archaeology
Death of Classical - Church of the Intercession 550 W 155th St New York, NY 10032

Link: www.deathofclassical.com/series/cryptsessions 

Saturday, February 24, 2024 at 8:00PM
Adam Sherkin Performs Accumulation of Purpose
Tenri Cultural Institute | New York, NY

Link: https://brushfire.com/pianolunaire/

Friday, April 5, 2024 at 7:00PM
Saturday, April 6, 2024 at 2:00PM and 7:30PM
Sunday, April 7, 2024 at 2:00PM
Opera Parallèle Presents Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera in Double Bill with Laura Karpman’s Balls
SF Jazz | San Francisco, CA

Link: www.sfjazz.org/tickets/productions/23-24/birds-balls/

More About David T. Little
Among Little’s other key compositions are several large scale instrumental works, including the “ghost play” Haunt of Last Nightfall for percussion quartet, and AGENCY, a companion string quartet about the nature of choice and knowledge, in which “episodes of crushing sonic violence coexist with oases of serene lyrical beauty for an overall sense of smoldering, luxuriant noise” (The New York Times). Yet other works explore life’s many highs: the ecstatic, almost manic energy of Spalding Gray, the Iggy Pop-inspired “joyous honk” of raw power, the wry humor of Speak Softly, the fond nostalgia of 1986, or the moonstruck aches of first love in JFK and What Belongs to You. 

Little’s newest works include Black Lodge, a metal-infused film opera drawing on the complex mythologies of William S. Burroughs, Antonin Artaud, and David Lynch. With a libretto by celebrated poet Anne Waldman and performances by Timur and the Dime Museum and Isaura String Quartet, Black Lodge was recorded remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, premiered by Beth Morrison Projects at Opera Philadelphia, and the soundtrack released by Cantaloupe Music. 

In 2024, Little will unveil his monodrama What Belongs to You, based on the celebrated novel by Garth Greenwell and developed for GRAMMY-winning tenor Karim Sulayman and Alarm Will Sound. He is developing several new operas with Royce Vavrek including a project commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera / Lincoln Center Theater New Works Program.

Little set the tone for his operatic work with the 2006 premiere of Soldier Songs, drawing praise for “the imaginative way he draws on his varied musical interests to produce arresting and coherent works” (Musical America). Based on extensive interviews with military veterans, the work has been performed by Atlanta Opera, San Diego Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and by Beth Morrison Projects at Los Angeles Opera and the Holland Festival. A film adaptation of Soldier Songs was later produced for the Opera Philadelphia Channel, earning a 2022 GRAMMY Award nomination and a 2022 Opera America Award. 

Little’s many compositions for solo performer or small ensemble often include ghostly or spiritual themes. Ghostlight, commissioned for Eighth Blackbird by The Kennedy Center, looks to surrealist art and fairy tales for their unspoken lessons, while dress in magic amulets, dark, from My feet is a meditation on Christ on the cross commissioned by The Crossing and International Contemporary Ensemble. Still other works draw from literary sources or history, such as The Crocus Palimpsest, a Samuel Beckett-inspired work for solo cello composed for Matt Haimovitz. The same is true for Little’s works for orchestra and large ensemble, including The Conjured Life, a centennial tribute to Lou Harrison, and CHARM, a celebration of city life commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Little is the founding artistic director and former drummer for the amplified chamber ensemble, Newspeak, which explores the relationship of music and politics, while confronting head-on the boundaries between the classical and rock traditions. They have released four commercial recordings, with a fifth on the way.

He has been commissioned by the world’s most prestigious institutions and performers, including recent projects for The Metropolitan Opera/Lincoln Center Theater new works program, the Kennedy Center, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, London Sinfonietta, The Crossing, Kronos Quartet, and Beth Morrison Projects. His music has been presented by Carnegie Hall, Holland Festival, LA Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Opéra de Montréal, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the LA Philharmonic. Little's recorded catalog includes over 20 commercial releases, on such labels as New Amsterdam Records, Pentatone, Sono Luminus, Bright Shiny Things, and Cantaloupe Music.

David T. Little received a 2023 Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and is a recipient of the Copland House Residency Award. His music is published by Boosey & Hawkes. Learn more at www.davidtlittle.com.

*Photo Credit: Merri Cyr

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