Jane Little, a bass player in the Atlanta Symphony for 71 years, collapsed at a concert this afternoon. She later died. I pray that her passage was a gentle one: that in her final moments here she felt no pain, only passion burning for her art.
I never knew Jane Little, and it feels presumptuous to say too much about her. All I can do is extend my deepest, truest, most heartfelt condolences to her friends, family, and colleagues…and listen to what they have to say about her extraordinary life and career.
That being said…
I have a ticket sitting in will-call at the Minnesota Orchestra box office.
I will be over a thousand miles from where Jane Little started, made, and ended her career.
But I will enter Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. The players will come onstage. (The concertmaster will be a woman.) (Her stand partner, too.) And I will see the Minnesota bass section, headed now by Kristen Bruya (principal) and Kate Nettleman (acting associate principal).
I will look up to Kristen and Kate as they share a stand. I will watch their eyes fiercely criss-crossing the music, their gazes snapping up intently to follow the conductor. (On Friday, the conductor will be a woman.) They will lose themselves in the sound for us. The bass section is the section that brings the orchestra to life. They will make a mighty rumble.
And even though I never met Jane Little, in that moment, I will think of Jane Little. And I will silently thank her, and celebrate the legacy she left for all of us.
Here is a profile on Jane Little from the AFM.
“I thought now why would any girl want to play that big thing, but when I started playing the bass, it was just…I just fell in love with it.” – NBC Nightly News