Soldier Songs

Description: 
Cycles of war and song
Composers: 
David T. Little
Performers: 
Newspeak
David Adam Moore
Todd Reynolds
Catalog Number: 
#852
Genre: 
experimental
new music
Collection: 
solo voice
theater
political
Location: 

New York City, NY

UPC: 
726708685225
Price: 
$15.00
Release Date: 
Feb 26, 2013
Liner Notes: 
View
Format: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

David T. Little’s Soldier Songs is an evening-length opera-theatre work exploring the perceptions versus the realities of war through the eyes of an abstract character, the soldier.  Based on interviews with veterans of five wars conducted by the composer, Soldier Songs traces the path of the soldier through three phases of life—Youth (playing war games) Warrior (time served in the military) and Elder (aged, wise, reflective).  It is an unflinching statement, exploring the loss and exploitation of innocence, and the difficulty of ever truly expressing or representing the truth of war.  

Produced by Lawson White and featuring frequent collaborators David Adam Moore, Todd Reynolds and Little’s crack ensemble Newspeak, Soldier Songs asks tough questions and tells tough stories through its driving music and its poignant libretto.  Approached as album, rather than a document of live performance, Soldier Songs is a moving and personal experience that leaves no one untouched.

Soldier Songs was commissioned by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, who 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 production, and premiered at the 2011 International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, conducted by Todd Reynolds and directed by Yuval Sharon. The fully-staged New York City premiere of the work took place at the PROTOTYPE Festival in January, 2013.

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 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-ass new-music ensemble in the city will want to play him.” Little’s first full-length opera, Dog Days, premiered this fall to rave reviews: "This gripping two-hour opera...wastes no time: A taut libretto and varied, original music deliver its grim story like a punch in the stomach" (Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal). Upcoming projects include new works for the London Sinfonietta, Kronos Quartet, Maya Beiser, Nadia Sirota, and others. His 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. He recently received his doctorate from Princeton University, and is a member of the HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP). His music is published by Project Schott New York.

Reviews: 

NEW YORK TIMES
“Soldier Songs”—a theatrical cantata for solo baritone composed by David T. Little, who grew up listening to heavy metal, classical music and musical theater—also had a military theme, with driven, slashing figures juxtaposed with moments of melodic calm. The work, based on interviews with soldiers, opens with audio interviews with Vietnam veterans, and the libretto (written by Mr. Little) is based on their recollections.”
—Vivien Schweitzer 

HOUSTON PRESS
“A compelling antiwar piece, David T. Little’s multimedia Soldier Songs, an oratorio-like song cycle, powerfully juxtaposed the Marine Corps creed (“my rifle is my friend,” “without my rifle I am useless”) against a soldier’s graphic retelling of a hideous roadside bombing.” 
—D.L. Groover

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE
Soldier Songs is not a loosely connected cycle, but a dramatic, theatrical solo cantata that builds to a heartrending climax… With each of the 11 songs as gripping as the last…(it is) a glowing paean to peace activism.”
Eric Haines

NEW YORK MAGAZINE
"…sharp, elegantly bristling music..."
—Justin Davidson

STAGE AND CINEMA
“…a remarkable piece of work with a strong point of view…”
—Cindy Pierre

TIME OUT NEW YORK
“… starkly eloquent … Soldier Songs deals in realities that defy representation.”
—Marion Lignana Rosenberg

VILLAGE VOICE
“The rare show to warrant adjectives like wrenching and harrowing…this is powerful work…”
—Alan Scherstuhl

NEW YORK TIMES
“…further evidence of Mr. Little’s fast-rising stock as a vital theatrical creator.”
—Steve Smith

STAR LEDGER
“Characteristically hard-hitting, Little’s score gives voice to the release of aggression, all-encompassing terror, grief and incomprehension. Rock influences meld with jarring jagged lines (expertly handled by Newspeak under conductor Todd Reynolds) and ominous atmospheric effects.”
—Ronni Reich
 
MUSICAL AMERICA
“One might have expected some sort of stylistic hybrid, but Little’s music falls comfortably within the modern-day ‘classical’ idiom, his allusions to pop adding rhythmic verve and melodic appeal. … Little knows how to set words.”
—George Loomis

WALL STREET JOURNAL
“[Soldier Songs] has a rock-infused rhythmic vitality and melodic inventiveness that keep the audience perpetually off-balance…”
—Heidi Waleson

MONSIEUR DELIRE
"[A] powerful work: troubling, forceful, and definitely not what I was expecting." [FULL ARTICLE]
Francois Couture

SEQUENZA 21
"[O]ne of the most exciting recordings I have experienced in 2013 and while the year is yet young I am confident this disc is going to stay in the cultural consciousness for the foreseeable future. The complicated and contradictory emotions involved with serving in the military is a topic that many have approached and this recording handles it all with bewildering perfection. … David Adam Moore’s voice is riveting throughout the disc as he transforms through the various stages (physically and emotionally) via his subtle and nuanced performance. … Overall, this piece, this performance, taps into Truth. The music is a vehicle for a larger message but one that is too complicated for words alone." [FULL ARTICLE]
Jay Batzner

VETERANS REPORTER
"Music has been turned upside down, just as war turns the world inside out. In my opinion, this CD may only be deeply understood by veterans of the current Middle East wars. I suggest they listen to it on a bright Sunday morning."
Chuck N. Baker

SIGNAL TO NOISE
"Alongside relentlessly provocative interview clips form traumatized veterans, baritone David Adam Moore and Newspeak … thunder adeptly through an equally relentless score. Little is a deft orchestrator … and his music brims with rhythmic vitality. … [T]he work's message [is] underscored and punctuated with fiery élan."
Christian Carey