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Jonathan David Little : Associate Artist

'All art is autobiography, personal and collective – representing quintessential thoughts, feelings, aspirations and beliefs – distilling and synthesizing the emotional value of an era, transmuting and preserving the same through an intellectual currency we choose symbolically to codify as the "Work of Art".' (Preface to 'Anatomy of Musical Composition') [Forthcoming]

Random Audio Sample: Polyhymnia, Op.10 : lamentation for string orchestra by Jonathan David Little, from the CD Polyhymnia

Photo of Jonathan David Little

Photo: David Galloway

Jonathan David Little, BMus(Hons)(Melb), ThA(AustCollTheol), PhD, FRSA, FISM

The atmospheric and evocative music of Jonathan David Little is characterised by its mystical beauty, intensity, and richness of material. Little was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1965. After initial studies at the University of Melbourne, where he won awards including the Wright Prize in Instrumental Music, St. Mary's College Academic Prize, and the Lady Turner Exhibition for overall excellence, he completed a Doctor of Philosophy degree at Monash University by research into the development of exotic orchestration in 19th and 20th-century music - along studies in church music and liturgy (through the Australian College of Theology). Interviewed in the September-October 2012 issue of American Fanfare, Little's musical style was defined, by the UK music producer and publisher Martin Anderson, as 'ecstatic minimalism'. Italian and other European critics have preferred the more general terms 'antique futurism' or 'picturesque archaism'.

In 2009 Little became the first composer to receive a Professional Development Award from the UK Music Business's own charity, the Musicians' Benevolent Fund (MBF). He has been recipient of Critics' Choice awards in America, and in 2008 his debut album was voted one of the top recordings of the year by US Fanfare ('The Want List' 2008). He was subsequently featured in Musical Opinion in early 2009.

Little first came to prominence in America in 2006 when the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) ran an article on him having five of his works accepted for recording (2004-07) by the US-headquartered French contemporary music label ERM (Editions de la Rue Margot), aimed at showcasing international contemporary composers. These, and subsequent recordings, have been supported by the Kenneth Leighton Trust (UK), the Foundation for New Music (USA), the Musicians' Benevolent Fund (UK), and the Australia Council. Little's compositions have been performed and recorded by artists including the Czech, Moravian and Kiev Philharmonic orchestras, the Sofia National Opera, Vox Futura (USA), the Thomas Tallis Society Choir (UK), and the BBC Singers.

Little has also written award-winning books on aspects of composition, orchestration and songwriting, and in 2010 was recipient of an Authors' Foundation/Royal Literary Fund Award for his 'vast' and 'erudite' two-volume, 950-page study of musical and literary Orientalism (New York: EMP) - with a further award made in 2016 towards the substantial tome, Anatomy of Musical Composition (forthcoming).

Little works in a variety of genres, including large-scale choral, string and symphonic works. In February 2012, a new album entitled Polyhymnia - featuring three European orchestras - was released on the Navona fine music label of PARMA Recordings (USA), and nominated for "Best Album of the Year" in Spain. The title work is part of a series of epic orchestral tone pictures on the theme of the legendary Nine Muses (the complete series remains a monumental work-in-progress). Cambridge University Press's new music journal Tempo reported that 'Polyhymnia conjures up a heart-rending panorama: it is immensely poetic, almost otherwordly, and employs an exceptionally hypnotic array of musical colour'. The UK's PRS for Music Foundation/Bliss Trust helped to support the composition in 2012 of the next work in the Nine Muses series (Erato).

On the strength of the quality of both his writings and musical output, in December 2011 Jonathan David Little became the first Australian-born composer to be elected the John Clementi Collard Fellow in Music (UK). The Collard Fellowship is one of the most prestigious awards of the City of London's ancient Worshipful Company of Musicians (est. 1500), and since 1931 has been offered on average every three years in open competition among Britain's leading performers, composers, conductors and scholars, aged from 27 to 50. Then, in 2015, Little was granted a major Australia Council Individual International Arts Project Award, to help fund the creation and recording of an album of multi-part, a cappella polychoral music, entitled Woefully Arrayed (2017). US Fanfare reported: 'Woefully Arrayed is a masterpiece … radiant … a superb disc', while Audiophile Audition thought it 'a delight ... fantastically beautiful', and Gramophone categorised it as 'masterly" and "luminous" . Choir & Organ (UK) argued that "Little writes very much in the manner of the Renaissance masters, creating what a modern sensibility would identify as 'immersive' music of strongly mystical aspect". It was subsequently nominated for "Best Classical Music Recording" at the 2018 RoundGlass Global Music Awards (USA/India).

Little was also one of only seven living composers whose work was selected for the Royal Philharmonic Society's ENCORE Choral Programme, for performance and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 during 2016-18. In March 2016, he was Featured Composer at the CNU Contemporary Music Festival (USA) - including a showcase concert of his works in the Music and Theatre Hall, Ferguson Center for the Arts, in Virginia - and was subsequently invited to participate in a BBC Singers choral composition workshop at BBC Maida Vale studios, led by Judith Weir, Master of the Queen's Music. In early 2017, he was awarded Special Distinction in the ASCAP Rudolf Nissim Prize (USA), becoming the first Australian composer to receive one of the concert music world's most esteemed awards (for large-scale orchestral composition).

In 2012, Little was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), and in 2014 became a Fellow of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (FISM). A member of the Los Angeles chapter of the Recording Academy, and of Grammy Pro, Little's music is published in Australia by Wirripang (see Artist website link above). In 2017, he was appointed to the unique dual title of inaugural Professor of Music Composition and Music History at the University of Chichester, UK.

Jonathan David Little — current to January 2018

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for
2017 Rudolf Nissim Prize Special Distinction Terpsichore, Op.7

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Polyhymnia, Op.10 : lamentation for string orchestra (2010) Supported by the Musicians Benevolent Fund (UK) with funding from the Willis & Grace Grant Charitable Trust.