Composer Emily Doolittle was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and educated at Dalhousie, Indiana University, Princeton, and the Koninklijk Conservatorium in the Hague, where she studied with Louis Andriessen with the support a Fulbright fellowship. From 2008-2015 she lived in Seattle, where she was an Associate Professor of Music at Cornish College of the Arts. She currently lives in Glasgow, Scotland. Doolittle enjoys writing for both traditional and less standard instrumentation, and has been commissioned by such ensembles and soloists as Symphony Nova Scotia, the Vancouver Island Symphony, Orchestre Métropolitain (Montreal), the New York Youth Symphony, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal, the Motion Ensemble (Canada), the Paragon Ensemble (Glasgow), soprano Suzie LeBlanc, vio la da gambist Karin Preslmayer, and alphornist Mike Cumberland. Upcoming projects include a chamber opera called Jan Tait and the Bear, which will be performed in Shetland by ffancytunesin the summer of 2015, and a piece for the Netherlands-based Musings Ensemble. An ongoing interest for Doolittle is the relationship between music and sounds from the natural world, particularly bird and other animal songs. She has explored this in a number of compositions, as well as in her doctoral dissertation at Princeton and in interdisciplinary birdsong research with biologists and ornithologists. In 2011 she was composer-in-residence at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany, where she collaborated with ornithologist Henrik Brumm in researching the song of the musician wren and presented a concert of her birdsong-related works, performed by members of the Bavarian State Opera. Other recurrent interests include folklore, musical story-telling, and making music for and with children. These interests are combined in her piece Songs of Seals, based on Scottish folklore and written in collaboration with Gaelic poet Rody Gorman, for the Voice Factory Youth Choir and the Paragon Ensemble (Glasgow), which was premiered in the fall of 2011 in Glasgow and Skye. Doolittle has received a number of awards for her music, including the 2012 Theodore Front Prize for A Short, Slow Life (commissioned by Suzie Leblanc and Symphony Nova Scotia), two ASCAP Morton Gould Awards, and the Bearn’s Prize. Her work has been supported by grants and commissions from the Artist Trust (Seattle), the Eric Stokes Fund, The Culture and Animals Foundation, ASCAP, the Canada Council, the Nova Scotia Arts Council, FIRST Music, the Montreal Arts Council, and the Conseil des Arts et Lettres du Québec, and with artist residencies at MacDowell, Ucross, Blue Mountain Center, Banff, and the Center for Contemporary Art in Glasgow.
The Wise Daughter (2009), for violin, piano, and narrator, is an adaptation of a Russian/Jewish folktale about a precocious innkeeper’s daughter whose wit and wisdom serve to elevate her far beyond her humble birth status. It is a work suitable for young audience but adults will enjoy it as well.