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

Fayette County restaurant inspection scores

Fayette County • HJ Wings & Things Express, 565 Highway 74, Peachtree City. 91/A • Johnny’s Pizza, 230 N. Glynn St., Fayetteville. 90/A • Pita Mediterranean Street Food, 1240 Highway 54, Fayetteville. 96/A • Smokey Bones Barbeque, 100 Market Place Blvd., Peachtree City. 88/B • Ted’s Montana Grill, 314 City Circle...
Rockdale County restaurant inspection scores

Rockdale County • China Star Restaurant, 2870 Highway 212, Conyers. 100/A • Don Tello’s Tex-Mex Grill, 1432 Dogwood Drive, Conyers. 91/A • New Orient Express, 425 Sigman Road, Conyers. 82/B • Outback Steakhouse, 1188 Dogwood Drive, Conyers. 75/C • Ruby Tuesday, 1714 Highway 138, Conyers. 86/B
Fulton County restaurant inspection scores

Fulton County • Catty Wampus Grill food truck, 3127 Process Drive, Norcross. 100/A • Hong Kong Harbor, 2184 Cheshire Bridge Road, Atlanta. 93/A • Mix’D Up Burgers, 313 Blvd SE, Atlanta. 97/A • Roly Poly, 8 Park Place South, Atlanta. 92/A • Ronaldo’s Resto Bar, 3719 Main St., College Park. 72/C
Gwinnett County restaurant inspection scores

Gwinnett County • Anatolia Café, 2855 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road, Suwanee. 85/B • Cracker Barrel, 6175 McDonough Drive, Norcross. 81/B • Kabob-ish, 3555 Gwinnett Place Drive, Duluth. 89/B • La Fuente Mexican Restaurant, 5045 Singleton Road, Norcross. 84/B • McCray’s Tavern, 100 N. Perry St., Lawrenceville. 85/B
DeKalb County restaurant inspection scores

DeKalb County • CineBistro @ Town Brookhaven, 1004 Town Blvd., Atlanta. 90/A • El Patron, 3302 Laventure Drive, Chamblee. 86/B • La Sultana Restaurant, 3648 Shallowford Road, Doraville. 80/B • Maurice’s Café, 100 Crescent Parkway, Tucker. 96/A • Mo Better Chicken, 3929 Flat Shoals Parkway, Decatur. 85/B
More Stories