David T. Little's SOLDIER SONGS Gets Digital Release Today
On Tuesday, February 26, the debut recording of David T. Little's "sharp, elegantly bristling" opera-theatre piece, Soldier Songs (2006), which recently completed a wildly successful NYC premiere run on the inaugural PROTOTYPE festival, is released on audio CD from Innova Recordings, produced by Lawson White. The recording receives its digital release on iTunes and Amazon today, February 5, 2013.
The hour-long eleven-song cycle, including libretto based on Little's interviews with veterans of five U.S. wars, follows the perspective of the title "Soldier" through three stages of life: Child (war-play and adolescent video games), Warrior (the confusion and terror of actual combat), and Elder (life after war).
For this "all-star" Innova Recordings release, Todd Reynolds conducts leading baritone David Adam Moore and David T. Little's "punk-classical" ensemble Newspeak, featuring Caleb Burhans, violin, voice; James Johnston, piano, toy piano, synthesizer, voice; Mellissa Hughes, voice; David T. Little, drums, junk metal, electronics, voice; Eileen Mack, clarinets, voice; Brian Snow, cello, voice; Peter Wise, vibraphone, percussion, voice. The disc also features special guest Kelli Kathman (piccolo, flutes, voice).
Soldier Songs is available for physical release on Tuesday, February 26, and for digital release via Amazon and iTunes today, February 5. For more, visit: http://www.innova.mu/albums/david-t-little/soldier-songs
SOLDIER SONGS Track List:
Part One: Child
2. I. Real American Heroes (Age 6-12)
3. II. Boom! Bang! Dead! (Rated "T" for Teen) (Age 13-17)
4. III. Counting The Days (for Gene Little) (Age 18-21)
Part Two: Warrior
5. IV. Still Life with Tank and iPod (Age 22-24)
6. V. Old Friends with Large Weapons (for Michael Lear) (Age 25-27)
7. VI. Hollywood Ending (for Justen Bennett) (Age 28-29)
8. VII. Steel Rain (Age 30-31)
Part Three: Elder
9. Introduction / VIII. Hunting Emmanuel Goldstein (Age 32-42) / IX. Every Town has a Wall (Age 43-52)
10. X. Two Marines (Age 52-57)
11. XI. War After War (Age 58-66)
12. Coda: The Closed Mouth Speaks
Duration: 53 minutes
Soldier Songs is based on and features interviews with the following veterans: Justen Bennett (US Army), Amber Ferenz (US Army), Richard Girardin (US Marine Corps), Gene Little (US Army), Joseph W. Little (US Army), Eugene F. Woznicki (US Air Force). This recording is dedicated to them. Says Little:
"I wrote Soldier Songs to try to figure things out. In 2004 I was invited by my former high school to speak with students about my life as a composer. Following my talk was my old friend, Justen Bennett, who was asked to talk about being a soldier. Justen had just returned from Iraq where, among other things, he had been a field medic, and had been among those who stormed Saddam Hussein's palace. I felt a little silly.
"Exiting the auditorium I saw a display case, which I remembered as having been used to celebrate student achievements: a victory for the football team, or the marching band, or photos from the musical that had happened the previous week. Now it was full of photos of alumni currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, driving tanks and carrying machine guns. Here, in the same case where the prom pictures used to go.
"I remembered back to my days with them in class arguing about the ethics of Vietnam, or even Operation Desert Storm. I remembered my attitude at the time: that war was always wrong, and that those who signed up to fight it were always fools. And yet, here were my friends‚ smart kids all‚ now in the desert defusing land mines.
"I then thought of my own family. Although we are not an intensely military family today, my generation is the first in nearly a century to not have a member in the service. My uncles were in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and my grandfathers were in World War II, in Europe. Cracks began to form in my absolutist position, and questions began to arise. To find my own answers, I called veterans I knew and asked them to speak with me about their experience. Everyone I asked said yes. It was from their stories that this piece began to emerge. What struck me most was that for almost all of them, this was the first time they had ever talked about their experience, even though for some they had left active duty nearly 40 years ago. This became central to the piece; what, for me, this piece is about: the impossibility of the telling.
"I never meant for this piece to prove a point, or even to have any kind of 'message' to deliver. Rather, it is presented for contemplation. I have selected and edited these interviews more as a way of sharing than as a way of convincing. By conducting these interviews, and writing this piece, I gained an awareness of the complexity and difficulty of the soldier's situation, and gained empathy and compassion for the men and women who have experienced the one-way door of combat; where once you pass through, you never fully come back."
Soldier Songs was commissioned by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, which premiered the original version of the work in 2006, conducted by Brett Mitchell and directed by Kevin Noe. The version of the work presented on this recording was completed for the Beth Morrison Projects (BMP) production, and premiered at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven in the summer of 2011, with David Adam Moore and Newspeak conducted by Todd Reynolds and directed by Yuval Sharon. The New York premiere of this production was presented as part of HERE and BMP's inaugural PROTOTYPE festival (Jan. 9-18, 2013) in partnership with the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University. (For PROTOTYPE, baritone Christopher Burchett sang the role of the Soldier.)
David T. Little's "sharp, elegantly bristling" music draws upon his experience as a rock drummer, fluidly fusing classical and popular idioms to powerful effect. His work often undertakes political and existential themes and 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" by Little's early work and Russell Platt has since confirmed Little's status as "one of the most imaginative young composers on the music-theatre scene" and "a classical composer with a surprisingly broad range," adding: "Most young composers put the influences of rock, post-minimalism, and Benjamin Britten into a cocktail shaker and hope for the best; Little channels them into a seamless flow that fosters structural cohesion and expressive impact."
Little landed on multiple end-of-year lists for his breakout opera with librettist Royce Vavrek, Dog Days (2012), featured as Best of 2012 in Opera Now magazine, New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Star Ledger, Time Out New York, and noted in a WQXR Best of 2012 roundtable with Heidi Waleson (Wall Street Journal) and Steve Smith (Time Out New York). The Wall Street Journal called Dog Days, "one of the most exciting new operas of recent years," and The New York Times stated that the work "proved beyond any doubt that opera has both a relevant present and a bright future." John Rockwell, writing for Opera magazine (UK) said: "This is (Little's) first full-length opera; it will not be his last." Dog Days travels next to Fort Worth Opera in 2015. FWO has also commissioned Little and Vavrek to write a new opera for its 2016 season, based on John F. Kennedy's final morning in the city.
Other upcoming projects include new works for the London Sinfonietta, Kronos Quartet, and Maya Beiser. His chamber and orchestral music has been performed internationally, heard at the Tanglewood, Aspen, and Cabrillo Festivals, and the Bang on a Can Marathon. Advocates include eighth blackbird, the London Sinfonietta, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Alarm Will Sound, and Marin Alsop, with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Little leads the contemporary ensemble Newspeak, recently received his doctorate from Princeton University, is on faculty at Shenandoah Conservatory, and is a member of the HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP). His music is published by Project Schott New York. http://davidtlittle.com
DAVID ADAM MOORE, with over 50 principal roles to his credit, has become a highly sought-after baritone by major opera houses and orchestras worldwide, having appeared in leading roles at Milan's Teatro alla Scala, Carnegie Hall, Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Tokyo's Bunkamura, Grand Théâtre de Genève, New Israeli Opera, New York City Opera, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Staatsoper Hannover, Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla, Orchestra of St. Luke's, and American Symphony Orchestra, among others. A noted interpreter of contemporary music, he has created roles for many of today's important living composers, and has garnered much critical acclaim for his interpretations of Mozart, Britten, Italian bel canto, and French Romantic repertoire. His performances have been broadcast on BBC, Arte television, NPR, Radio France, RAI, and Radio Netherlands. In 2013, he makes debuts with Lyric Opera of Chicago as Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire, and with the LA Philharmonic as Prior Walter in Angels in America. http://www.davidadammoore.com
NEWSPEAK, named after the thought-limiting language in George Orwell's 1984, is an amplified powerhouse ensemble that became an early standout within New York's "indie-classical" scene. The current stellar line-up--Caleb Burhans (composer/violin), David T. Little (composer/drums), Mellissa Hughes (voice), Eileen Mack (clarinet), Taylor Levine (guitar), Brian Snow (cello), James Johnston (piano), and Peter Wise (percussion)--began performing together in 2008, and released their first CD with New Amsterdam Records in November 2010, to critical acclaim. NEWSPEAK has been featured as part of the Tune-In Festival with eighth blackbird at the Park Avenue Armory, the Ecstatic Music Festival in NYC, on New Sounds Live, and at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas. They have headlined on the MATA Festival, shared bills with The Fiery Furnaces as part of Wordless Music, and performed as part of John Zorn's Full Force festival. Actively committed to the music of its time Newspeak has commissioned and premiered work by David T. Little, Caleb Burhans, Corey Dargel, Oscar Bettison, TEd Hearne, Judd Greenstein, Missy Mazzoli and many others. "You could call this punk classical," Lucid Culture wrote, "fearlessly aware...(and) resolutely defiant." New Sounds host John Schaefer called them "important players on the new music scene here in New York."
Todd Reynolds, conductor, violinist, composer, educator and technologist is known as one of the founding fathers of the hybrid-musician movement and one of the most active and versatile proponents of what he calls 'present music'. The violinist of choice for Steve Reich, Meredith Monk, Bang on a Can, and a founder of the string quartet known as Ethel, his compositional and performance style is a hybrid of old and new technology, multi-disciplinary aesthetic and pan-genre composition and improvisation. Reynolds' music has been called "a charming, multi-mood extravaganza, playful like Milhaud, but hard-edged like Hendrix" (Strings magazine), and his countless premieres and performances of everything from classical music to jazz to rock'n'roll seem to redefine the concert hall and underground club as undeniably and unavoidably intertwined. Amazon rated his 2011 release, Outerborough Best of Classical. It's an Innova Recordings double CD featuring InSide, a collection of his own music, paired with OutSide, music written by a veritable who's who of contemporary composers. http://www.toddreynolds.com