ASO bassist Jane Little dies Sunday after performance


RELATED: Jane Little, 'indomitable' Atlanta Symphony bassist, celebrated

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra bassist Jane Little collapsed during a performance Sunday evening and was rushed to the hospital, where she died, according to symphony spokeswoman Tammy Hawk.

Little, 87, held the Guinness World Record for having the longest tenure with a single orchestra.

She joined the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra — the forerunner of the ASO — at age 16, after studying bass in high school for two years, and played with the orchestra for 71 years.

“We can truly say that Jane Little was fortunate to do what she loved until the very end of her storied life and career,” said Hawk, in a statement.

“The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra was truly blessed to have Jane as part of our family for the past 71 years and we all miss her passion, vitality, spirit and incredible talent.”

On Sunday the orchestra was at the very end of a pops concert, “Broadway’s Golden Age,” and were finishing an encore, the Irving Berlin tune “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” when Little collapsed.

“It was the last minute of the last piece on the program,” said fellow bassist Michael Kurth. “Her bass crashed into my bass, she fell over onto the floor, and as quickly as we could we dropped our instruments and got her offstage.”

A physician who is part of the ASO Chorus and a nurse from the audience worked to revive her, said Kurth. Little was transported to Grady Hospital, but passed away later that day.

Little was married to the symphony’s principal flautist Warren Little for 41 years, until his death in 2002, and has performed under all four of the ensemble’s music directors – Henry Sopkin, Robert Shaw, Yoel Levi and Robert Spano, as well as guest conductors, including Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, Pierre Monteux, Leopold Stokowski, Sir John Barbirolli and James Levine.

When the former Jane Findley joined the symphony she was only 4-foot-11 and weighed 98 pounds. When she later married Warren Little, she joked that she was glad her husband played such a diminutive instrument so that he could carry her bass for her.

In addition to her work with the symphony, she was principal bass with the Theater of the Stars Orchestra for 15 years, and played extensively with regional ballet and opera companies, as well as in touring performances of the American Ballet Theatre, Covent Garden Ballet, and Boris Goldovsky Opera Theatre. Twenty years ago this July, Little performed in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic opening and closing ceremonies with “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” composer/conductor John Williams.

“She was indestructible,” said Kurth. “A couple of years ago during summer break, she broke her pelvis. We learned through the personnel manager that the doctor said she’d be out three or four months. But she was back in two weeks. She was made of steel.”

Added Kurth, “I’m so blessed to have shared the stage with her. I could use words like ‘remarkable’ but there really aren’t enough superlatives to describe her.”

She achieved the Guinness record in February, despite health challenges.

The orchestra’s application for Little’s record is under review pending final approval.

Read and sign the online guestbook for the ASO's Jane Little


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Revamped bill aimed at giving sex abuse victims more time to seek justice advances
Revamped bill aimed at giving sex abuse victims more time to seek justice advances

Three words, and the standard of proof they establish, dominated a House judiciary subcommittee hearing Wednesday on proposed changes to a law aimed at giving sex abuse victims more power to go after their abusers. Following a prolonged debate over language, the subcommittee voted in favor of moving a revised Georgia Hidden Predator Act onto the full...
Torpy at Large: If lobbyists win, Hidden Predator Act will stay hidden
Torpy at Large: If lobbyists win, Hidden Predator Act will stay hidden

It’s hard to come out — at least publicly — against measures meant to clamp down on child molesters. A bill in the state House called the Hidden Predator Act would expand the age (to 38) that past victims of child sexual assault could sue for damages. Moreso, it would hold accountable organizations, businesses and even churches that...
Man who admitted dismembering law student says he didn’t get fair trial
Man who admitted dismembering law student says he didn’t get fair trial

Nearly four years ago, Stephen Mark McDaniel admitted he killed and dismembered his neighbor, who had just graduated from Mercer University law school. He was convicted of malice murder and sentenced to life in prison in the murder of Lauren Giddings. But this week, McDaniel says he didn’t have a fair trial due to the state’s misconduct...
NRC investigation reveals document falsification at Georgia’s Plant Vogtle 1&2
NRC investigation reveals document falsification at Georgia’s Plant Vogtle 1&2

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a $145,000 civil penalty against Southern Nuclear company in the wake of violations related to plant inspections at Vogtle 1 and 2 . In a statement published Wednesday, the commission said 13 system operators failed to complete required rounds of inspection between August to October 2016, but entered...
Legislature may be ready to tighten Ga. gun law, but just a little
Legislature may be ready to tighten Ga. gun law, but just a little

State lawmakers on both sides of the gun debate will soon decide if the time is right to take steps to tighten Georgia’s gun law. Under a long-standing law, the records of thousands of Georgians who were involuntarily committed for mental health treatment have been removed from a national database that gun dealers use to run background checks...
More Stories