Soldier Songs is an evening-length multimedia event from composer David T. Little that combines elements of theater, opera, rock-infused-concert music and animation to explore the perceptions versus the realities of the Soldier, the exploration of loss and exploitation of innocence, and the difficulty of expressing the truth of war. Music can be easily co-opted to serve a political or ideological message or it can equally be a vehicle for reflection, engagement, and emotional connection, as is seen in this gripping music-theatre work.
The libretto, created by the composer, was adapted from recorded interviews with veterans of 5 wars. Soldier Songs traces the shift in perception of war from the age of six to the age of 66. We follow the abstract character through the three phases of life: Youth (playing war games), Warrior (time served in the military) and Elder (aged, wise, reflective).
It is a chilling and realistic view of our media-crazed, war machine culture, and of the nature of power in war. Each of the 11 songs explores a different aspect of the experience, ranging from rage, to fear, to joy, to grief. Multi-media is employed less as a collection of recorded evidence and more as a critique of the media’s ability to both glamorize and falsify the truth of combat.
Soldier Songs asks the tough questions and tells the tough stories through its poignant libretto, driving and devastating music, and surprising visual counterpoint. The tension between the visual and aural experience of our production works to dispel the numbness felt by those of us lucky enough to only experience war through the comfort of our living rooms.
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Soldier Songs was commissioned by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, which premiered the original version of the work in 2006. A workshop in New York City followed in 2008, produced by Beth Morrison Projects at Le Poisson Rouge and directed by Yuval Sharon. The first fully-staged production of Soldier Songs took place in 2011 at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, Connecticut. The LA Opera Off Grand presentation of Soldiers Songs, presented at the Ford Theatres in a Beth Morrison Projections production, is the West Coast premiere of a new multi-media presentation of the work, with film by Bill Morrison. This version was previously seen in Washington, D.C., in 2014 and at the Holland Festival in 2015.