by David T. Little


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Soldier Songs is a recording project documenting award-winning composer David T. Little’s first opera of the same name.  Exploring the perceptions versus the realities of war through the eyes of an abstract character, 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).  Produced by award-winning producer Lawson White, each of the eleven songs explores a different aspect of his experience, ranging from rage, to fear, to joy, to grief.  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.

In the summer of 2011, the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, in New Haven, CT presented Soldier Songs in its first fully-staged performance, produced by Beth Morrison Projects With help from the New Music USA’s Composer Assistance Program Recording Grant and the Puffin Foundation, we were able to seize the opportunity to record the instrumental ensemble (Newspeak, conducted by Todd Reynolds) immediately following the performance, capturing the energy of the New Haven production on tape, for release on innova.  Since, we were able to raise additional funds to edit the instrumental parts, and record the vocal tracks with rising-star David Adam Moore.  But now, Soldier Songs has been presented with an amazing opportunity: to have a high-profile New York City premiere in January 2013, as part of the inaugural PROTOTYPE Festival.  A partnership between HERE and Beth Morrison Projects, PROTOTYPE features “visionary music-theatre and opera-theatre works by pioneering artists from NYC and around the world.”  As a result we’ve thrown production in to high gear to ready the CD for commercial release to coincide with these performances.

Due to the unexpected (if welcomed) nature of this opportunity, we have less time than we’d expected to raise the remaining $29,000 of the budget Of this amount, we’re seeking $15,000 through USA Projects, to help complete the mixing process and prepare the work for release.  If we are able to raise more than this, we could even fund the completion of the entire project, including graphic design, PR and various other administrative expenses!

Having a commercial recording available is an important next step for this work.  Dealing with the impact of war on the individual, Soldier Songs remains an unfortunately relevant work.  As more and more veterans come home from our on-going wars to face a new struggles with reintegration and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, works like Soldier Songs become all the more important.  They start conversations.  They help instill a certain kind of understanding in vets and their families, and help to begin the healing process. 

Many thanks to all of the many supporters of this project, past and present.  None of this would be possible without you. 

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    • December 21, 2012 William Neil Artist

      I support the reflection on war and aggression in our world through all of the arts. However, as the father of a marine who served three deployments in Iraq, and from what I see and hear in your trailer, a level of superficiality permeates this project and it concerns me.

      • December 21, 2012 David T. Little Artist

        Dear William, I appreciate you checking out this project. Obviously, it is of great personal interest to you, given your son or daughter's experience. Of course, the short clip shown here doesn't (and can't) convey the full arc of the hour-long piece. Certainly the way some issues are addressed within that arc make use of lighter dramatic devices—satire, for one. I see this not as superficial, but rather as a judicious use of lighter element to help illuminate very serious issues, while giving balance to the work as a whole. In a piece like this, a balance of light and dark is obviously very important. However, this juxtaposition is also best understood in a broader context, which can also be hard to illustrate in a minute-long excerpt. But though I understand that your opinion is based on this trailer, and likely influenced by the elements I discuss above, I can assure you that this is a very serious work, written with absolutely serious intent, and with deep respect for veterans and their experience. As a close friend and family member of generations of service men and women—many of whom are participants in this piece—I can guarantee this. Moreover, this project has gained support from numerous veteran groups, as well as personal, written responses from veterans who have attended the performances over the years, telling me how the work resonated with their experiences. This moved me deeply. In the end, I feel that I made an honest work. I encourage you to check out the full piece when it is released, and see if you still feel the way you do. Sincerely, David T. Little