Three North American-based Composers are Finalists in Digital Competition

Three North American-based Composers are Finalists in Digital Competition

David T. Little

Composer/percussionist David T. Little (b. 1978, New Jersey) is among the three finalists in the inaugural Digital Composer-in-Residence competition launched by the London-based The other finalists are Canadian composer Aaron Gervais (b. 1980), who received his master’s from UCSD, and Taiwanese composer Chiayu (b. 1975) who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Duke University.

About the Finalists

Chiayu‘s Zhi for violin and piano was composed in 2008 and includes folk rhythms from Chinese festive music. “Zhi” means “to weave” or “to interlace,” especially to form a design. “The result is often a united and coherent texture,” according to the composer, “yet one that varies depending on the viewing angle, as in the view through a kaleidoscope. In these movements, relatively simple motifs…weave in and out of one another. Harmony and counterpoint are intricately intertwined to create complex inflections.”

Composed in 2008, Aaron Gervais‘s Sensational Revolution in Medicine for soprano and speaking pianist is a set of three pieces with text taken from spam email messages that Gervais collected. “I am attracted to the idea of using spam email texts because of what the represent,” he says. “Since the purpose of commercial spam is always to trick someone into spending money, these texts are always targeted at our most deep-seated fears and vulnerabilities.”

David T. Little‘s 1986 for string quartet is based on the tune “My Grandfather’s Clock.” Little says, “I have my own connections to this song, which I must have played hundreds, if not thousands of times as a boy playing in a fife and drum corps in New Jersey.” 1986 calls on this experience, making use of the snare drum part that he played. The tune returns throughout the piece in different incarnations giving the listener a sense of a hazy, but fond, memory.

Beginning in June, Dilettante invited composers from around the world to submit their works online, to be judged by an international panel, representing five cities in the United States and Great Britain. The judges included a conductor, a music director, and an educator as well as fellow composers, among them Nico Muhly and former BBC Scottish Symphony composer-in-residence Anna Meredith.


Now, these finalists must compete for votes from a worldwide audience of fans, who have until November 4 at 12 a.m. Eastern to help select a winner. Voting began at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on October 20 when Dilettante posted audio files for each of the finalists’ works, in performances specially recorded for the site by the London Sinfonietta, in order for its online audience to listen and vote. The files are posted to

Aaron Gervais
Photo by Stella Kim

The competition will culminate November 5 at 7:00 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time with a concert event at London’s Wilton’s Music Hall, the oldest surviving music hall in the world, where the London Sinfonietta, under the direction of Charles Hazlewood, will perform a program curated by all three finalists, featuring their own contest entries alongside works that influenced them. The Digital Composer-in-Residence winner will also be announced at this event, thus launching a year-long residency in which the winning composer-in-residence will be able to further interact with Dilettante members with a “Composer’s Corner,” promoted and directly linked from the site homepage, a podcast series, online master-classes, and forum discussions. The winning composer’s residency will conclude with a live performance of a newly commissioned work, at a date and venue to be announced. (—Condensed from the press release)

THIS JUST IN (November 5, 2009): David T. Little has been named the winner of the Digital Composer-in-Residence competition

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