Mr. Little’s Very Large Life

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David Little

As the early summer sun finally gives up its fight, the light outside David Little’s cozy downtown Manhattan office in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood turns from the bruise purple of late afternoon to the melancholy sapphire of early evening. It’s a transition of color one might be inclined to associate with the young composer’s music—inevitable, hypnotizing and just a little bit haunting.

Taking his cue from the light, Little looks at the clock on his computer. It’s just after 8 p.m., and he’s now resigned to missing the first few minutes of his friend’s show, which is beginning somewhere uptown just as we start wrapping up the interview.

“Some of my composer friends and I joke that we’re living the dream,” says Little with a laugh. “You know you’re living the dream if you can never see your friends’ shows, you’re tired all the time, and somehow you’re still broke.” He pauses again for a hearty laugh before adding, “I’d love for things to slow down, but not too much. Even though things have been hectic over the last two years, I know that’s a good sign.”

At 32, Little has already amassed quite the résumé. The work of this rising-star composer has caught the attention of everyone from New York Times critics to Grammy-winning composer Osvaldo Golijov. WQXR radio has called Little “one of the most promising stars on the 21st-century opera scene.”

Last year, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra per formed his 2002 piece Screamer!, and in September, the orchestra will premiere the commissioned piece Charm. Third Coast Percussion premiered one of his most ambitious works to date, Haunt of Last Nightfall last year in Chicago. In June, Newspeak—the amplified, cutting-edge, politically minded eight-piece ensemble Little founded—performed his gripping wartime opera, Soldier Songs, at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, Conn. And since November, the 2000 Susquehanna alumnus has been the executive director of MATA, an influential nonprofit, founded by Golden Globe winner Philip Glass, that showcases the work of young composers at a four-day festival held each spring in New York City.

Oh yeah. And he also earned his doctorate degree from Princeton University in May.

“Finding time to compose is getting harder and harder,” says Little, who is currently booked with commissioned pieces through 2013. Again, he’s not complaining. “I am actually living the dream.”

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