Thomas Little (born July 12, 1996) was identified as a musical prodigy by Dr. George Kiorpes at the age of six, and studied piano with him for twelve years. He has studied composition with Dr. Michael Rothkopf since the summer of 2012, and is currently in his fourth and final year of undergraduate study with him at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) in Winston-Salem. Most recently, he attended the 2018 Atlantic Music Festival in Waterville, Maine. He has participated in master classes with Kati Agócs, J. Scott Brubacher, Robert Cuckson, Richard Danielpour, Christopher Dobrian, Charles Fussell, Jennifer Higdon, Vijay Iyer, Pierre Jalbert, Mari Kimura, Amy Beth Kirsten, Jordan Kuspa, Zhou Long, David Ludwig, Caroline Shaw, George Tsontakis, Nils Vigeland, and Chen Yi.
Highlights of his prolific and eclectic output include the electronic Christmas Dance, used from 2013-17 for the dancing Christmas tree at the Tanglewood Festival of Lights; the “too clever for its own good” musical-theater chamber piece Overdrive, commissioned and performed around the United States by the “Low & Lower” cello-bass duo of Brooks Whitehouse and Paul Sharpe; “Teton Pass,” the first movement of his Symphony №. 1 The Grand Tetons, which took first prize in the Winston-Salem Symphony Orchestraís 2018 Composition Competition and was performed by the orchestra under the baton of Dr. Jessica Morel; Invasion of the Minor Seconds, recorded by four-time Grammy-winning Pierrot ensemble Eighth Blackbird during their UNCSA residency in spring 2018; Awakening, a Moravian-inspired overture commissioned by the Wachovia Winds Youth Wind Ensemble conducted by Danny Green; The Elephantís Foot, a Chernobyl-inspired tone poem commissioned by the American Guild of Organists in collaboration with its premiering organist Carina Sturdy for their 2018 Student Commissioning Project; Imaginary Poetry, performed by award-winning violinist Dr. Jubal Fulks; and Nonexistent Chimera, recorded by Robin Meiksins as a part of her “52 Weeks of Flute” project.
Thomasís music is characterized by the fusion of old and new compositional designs and techniques, combined with an affinity for Haydnesque humor and a thorough fascination with musicís unique ability to directly express and convey and project the emotions of lived experiences into the minds of audiences. In the realm of vocal music, he is particularly fascinated with the poetry of Robert W. Service, the “Bard of the Yukon,” for its vivid imagery. As a performer, he is active as pianist and organist at St. Michael Lutheran Church in High Point, and on gangsa, reyong, and ceng-ceng in Wake Forestís Gamelan Giri Murti (a Balinese angklung/gong kebyar and beleganjur ensemble) under Dr. Elizabeth Clendinning.
Thomasís love of collaboration has led him to a variety of projects, including student films (both live-action and an animation selected for screening at the Full Bloom Film Festival in Statesville, NC) and many modern dance pieces with several different choreographers. He was elected president of the UNCSA Synergy Project, a student-led organization dedicated to the promotion of inter-campus collaboration, for the 2018-19 term.
As a firm believer in the value of accessible music education, he is the creator and host of the “Classical Nerd” channel on YouTube, and has created weekly educational content for the platform since January 2016. Videos on the channel have been used as supplementary material by music educators around the world. He is a self-taught harmonicist, can passably imitate a kazoo with his mouth, knows a handful of chords on the mandolin, and goes on road trips of exorbitant length (including 49 states, nine Canadian provinces, and the Yukon Territory), which he occasionally turns into symphonies.