BassistJane Little

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A musician, Little auditioned for the Atlanta Youth Symphony and was hired on February 4, 1945 as a bassist. She was 16 years old. Three years later, the group was renamed the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and she stayed on …and on, and on. “She seemed to be made of bass resin and barbed wire,” said bassist Michael Kurth, who played next to her. “She was unstoppable.” The symphony was her life: her husband was a flutist in the orchestra. “I must say that when I met Warren, I was very impressed that he played a small instrument,” she once said, “so he could carry my bass around!” He retired in 1992, and died in 2002. In February 2016, Little broke the record tenure for a symphony musician — 70 years, set by violinist Frances Darger, who retired in 2012 after 70 years, 69 of which were spent with the Utah Symphony. “When I heard she was retiring, I said, ‘I’m going for it!’,” Little said. On May 15, Little was playing in a concert — “Broadway’s Golden Age” — and was in the last minute of the encore (“There’s No Business Like Show Business”) when she collapsed on stage. She was carried behind the curtain but did not regain consciousness. “Hollywood could not have scripted it better,” said associate principal viola Paul Murphy. Little, who had been fighting multiple myeloma, played with the orchestra for just over 71 years. She was 87.

From This is True for 15 May 2016