Jonathan David Little
B.Mus.(Hons.)(Melb.), Th.A.(Aust.Coll.Theol.), Ph.D.(Monash), F.I.S.M., F.R.S.A.
Former John Clementi Collard Fellow in Music of the Worshipful Company of Musicians
The atmospheric and evocative music of Jonathan David Little is notable for its beauty, intensity and richness of material. On the strength of the excellence of both his music, and of his writings on music, he was the first Australian-born composer to be awarded the John Clementi Collard Fellowship (2011), one of the most prestigious awards of the City of London’s ancient Worshipful Company of Musicians (est.1500) – and one of the most coveted musical awards in Britain. He was also the first composer of any nationality to receive a Professional Development Award from the UK music business’s own charity, the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund. In 2016 he won a Royal Philharmonic Society "ENCORE Choral" Award (UK), in 2017 Special Distinction in the Rudolf Nissim Prize (USA) – one of the concert music world's most esteemed awards for large-scale instrumental composition – and in January 2018 his polychoral Kyrie was nominated for "Best Classical Music Recording" at the inaugural RoundGlass Global Music Awards (USA-INDIA). Choir & Organ (UK) reported of his choral music 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".
His historically-informed compositional style has been variously described as "Ecstatic Minimalism", "Archaic Futurism", and “Picturesque Archaism” – blending art music, folk/Celtic, and other sacred and secular musical influences, from as far back as the fourteenth century, with new and innovative textures and orchestration (sometimes also including spatial effects).
Jonathan studied music at the University of Melbourne – winning the Lady Turner Exhibition for overall excellence – then undertook a PhD studying the development of "exotic" orchestration in 19th- and 20th-century music at Monash University. A former Prefect of the Australian National Boys’ Choir and member of the Australian Youth Orchestra (participating in the 1988 Grand Bicentennial European Tour), Jonathan performed with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and for new music workshops of the Australian Opera.
Jonathan’s compositions have won multiple ASCAP and critics’ choice awards in the USA, as well as PRS, Bliss, Chagrin and Leighton Trust Awards in the UK. His first major album was one of Fanfare magazine’s top recommended recordings for 2008 – acclaiming “a major new, original and quite brilliant classical voice” – while his 2012 album, Polyhymnia, featuring three European orchestras, was nominated in Spain for “Best Album of the Year”. US Fanfare called his third album of 2017, Woefully Arrayed – featuring three US and UK choirs – “a masterpiece … radiant … A superb disc”.
In 2015, Jonathan received a major Australian Government / Australia Council “Individual International Arts Project Award”, to help fund the creation and recording of an album of multi-part, a cappella polychoral music (Woefully Arrayed), and he was invited to be “Featured Composer” at the CNU Contemporary Music Festival (USA) in March 2016 – including a showcase concert of his works in the Music and Theatre Hall, Ferguson Center for the Arts, in Virginia.
From 2001 to 2005, Jonathan was Principal of the UK’s Academy of Contemporary Music, which was, at that time, Europe’s leading institution for students of contemporary music and the first music education institution to win the Queen’s Award for Enterprise (Innovation Category). He is currently inaugural Professor of Music Composition and Music History at the University of Chichester – now the UK’s largest University Music Department.
Jonathan was formerly Consultant Editor of the Musicians’ and Songwriters’ Yearbook, and chief amongst his published theoretical writings is a “vast” and “erudite” two-volume study of musical and literary orientalism (winner of an Authors’ Foundation / Royal Literary Fund Award in 2010). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Fellow of the Incorporated Society of Musicians.
For further information, and for scores and recordings, Jonathan may be contacted via his publishers.
WORLDWIDE criticAL OPINION:
- “immense creativity and innovation while remaining accessible to new listeners” – ASCAP Playback Magazine (Summer, 2006) (USA)
- “a major new, original and quite brilliant classical voice” – Lynn René Bayley, citation in “The Want List 2008”, Fanfare Magazine (Nov-Dec 2008) (USA)
- “innovative music … incandescent … a positively dynamic musical palette … moving the listener irrevocably onward to a brightly illuminated plain of poetic splendour, rhythm and ecstasy” – John Wheatley, in Tempo (Cambridge University Press, January 2008) (UK)
- “a richness of coloration, dynamic shading and melodic inventiveness all his own. Small wonder that this Australian composer has gained several awards on both sides of the Atlantic.” – Phillip Sommerich, in Classical Music (25th February, 2012) (UK)
- ‘a musical treasure. … he deserves, in my opinion, to be counted among the “great” of our century for refinement of musical texture.
When a composer today pens such sweetness on a musical staff, we cannot help but be moved to true joy, because these are living moments of ecstatic beauty.’ - Carlo Lamberti, Spazio della Musica, 6th July, 2015 [50th birthday tribute] (ITALY)
- “Little composes with a great array of technical skills and his works are both harmonically and contrapuntally pleasing. He knows how to bring out all the colors of the choral palette” – Maria Nockin, “Polyhymnia …”, in Fanfare, Vol.36, No.1 (Sept/Oct 2012) (USA)
- “Jonathan David Little’s music walks the same path as that of Arvo Pärt and Morten Lauridsen … and Little’s style is natural and organic. He does not offer a contrived veneer of ethereality, but rather employs polychoral-inspired and spatial techniques to create a warm wash of sound with some substance behind it.” – James V. Maiello, “Little, Woefully Arrayed …” (CD review), in Fanfare, Vol.41, No.2 (Nov./Dec. 2017) (USA)
- “Little shows masterly command of the choral idiom in the luminous interweaving of voices and occasional solo flights.” - Donald Rosenberg [Editor, Early Music America], “LITTLE Woefully Arrayed …” (CD review), in Gramophone, Vol.95 (Jan. 2018) (UK / NORTH AMERICA)
- “Little’s musical style is arrestingly beautiful, and manages to strike a delicate balance between tradition and innovation.” - Arnaud G. Veydarier, “Jonathan David Little, Woefully Arrayed …” (CD review), in La Scena Musicale (Feb./Mar. 2018), p.32 (CANADA)
Artists who have performed or recorded the works of Jonathan David Little include: Czech Philharmonic Orchestra; Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra; Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra; Soloists of the Sofia Opera; Vox Moderne (Bulgaria); Vox Futura (USA); Bath Camerata (UK); Thomas Tallis Chamber Choir (UK); BBC Singers (UK).
Jonathan David Little's Performing Rights are assigned to ASCAP (for clearance see: www.ascap.com – “ACE Title Search” – “Search the Database” – Writers / Find “Jonathan David Little”)
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