Looking ahead to winter, David T. Little's evening-length multi-media music-theatre work, Soldier Songs (2006), receives its New York City premiere as part of BMP and HERE's inaugural PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theatre/Now festival January 11-13 + 16-18, 2013, showcasing pioneering work by a new generation of opera-theatre and music-theatre composers. Created and composed by Little, Soldier Songs is based on recorded interviews with veterans of five wars, with a libretto adapted by the composer.
Yuval Sharon directs and Todd Reynolds conducts Little's ensemble, Newspeak, with baritone Christopher Burchett in the role of the Soldier. Production design by Chisato Uno, and animation design by Corey Michael Smithson.
To coincide with the NYC premiere, a debut recording of Soldier Songs will be released on Innova Recordings in January 2013.
Soldier Songs combines elements of theater, opera, rock-infused concert music, and animation to explore the realities of the Soldier, the exploration of loss and exploitation of innocence, and the difficulty of expressing the truth of war. Though music can be easily co-opted to serve a political or ideological message, it can also be a vehicle for reflection and emotional connection, as is seen in this gripping opera-theatre work. Soldier Songs traces the shift in perception of war from the age of 6 to the age of 66. We follow the abstract character through the three phases of life: Youth (playing war games) Warrior (time served in the military) and Elder (aged, wise, reflective).
It is a chilling and realistic view of our media-crazed, war machine culture, and of the nature of power in war. Each of the eleven songs explores a different aspect of the experience, ranging from rage, to fear, to joy, to grief. Multi-media is employed less as a collection of recorded evidence and more as a critique of the media's ability to both glamorize and falsify the truth of combat. Soldier Songs asks tough questions and tells tough stories through its poignant libretto, driving music, and surprising visual counterpoint. The tension between the visual and aural experience of the production works to dispel the numbness felt by those lucky enough to only experience war through the comfort of our living rooms.
With the recent article in The New York Times (August 12, 2012), the journalist Nicholas D. Kristof provides the statistic that for every one soldier that is killed in Afghanistan or Iraq, twenty-five returning vets commit suicide. In a country that has been at war for over a decade, Soldier Songs couldn't be more timely, more immediate, or more important.
Soldier Songs will be presented in partnership with Pace University's Michael SchimMel Center for the Arts.
Upcoming projects for David T. Little include new works for the London Sinfonietta, Kronos Quartet, Maya Beiser, Nadia Sirota, and plans for another major opera.
David T. Little's potently dramatic music draws upon his experience as a rock drummer, and fuses classical and popular idioms to powerful effect. Often undertaking political and existential themes, his music has been described by The New York Times as "dramatically wild...rustling, raunchy and eclectic," showing "real imagination." New Yorker critic Alex Ross declared himself "completely gripped," noting that "every bad-*** new-music ensemble in the city will want to play him."
His music has been performed throughout the world-including in Dresden, London, Edinburgh, LA, Montreal, and at the Tanglewood, Aspen, MATA and Cabrillo Festivals-by such performers as the London Sinfonietta, Alarm Will Sound, eighth blackbird, So Percussion, ensemble courage, Dither, NOW Ensemble, PRISM Quartet, 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 Baltimore Symphony, the Albany Symphony, the New World Symphony, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, and Dawn Upshaw's Vocal Arts program at the Bard Conservatory.