Emily Doolittle


Emily Doolittle on transcribing whale songs, crafting faux bird calls, and dealing with the cultural attitude that women can learn from the "great masters" but cannot join their ranks.

Canadian-born, Scotland-based composer Emily Doolittle grew up in Halifax Nova Scotia and was educated at Dalhousie University, the Koninklijk Conservatorium in the Hague, Indiana University and Princeton University. From 2008-2015 she was  Assistant/Associate Professor of Composition and Theory at Cornish College of the Arts. She now lives in Glasgow, UK, where she is an Athenaeum Research Fellow at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Emily Doolittle has an ongoing research interest in zoomusicology, the study of the relationship between human music and animal songs. She recently spent 3 months as composer-in-residence at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany. Other interests include the traditional music of various cultures, community music-making, and music as a vehicle for social change.

She was awarded a 2016 Opera America Discovery Grant, as well as funding from the Hinrichsen Foundation and the Canada Council of the Arts, for the development of her chamber opera Jan Tait and the Bear, which was premiered by Ensemble Thing, with Alan McHugh, Catherine Backhouse, and Brian McBride, conducted by Tom Butler and directed by Stasi Schaeffer, at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow. Upcoming projects include commissions from the Cherry Street Duoand the Fair Trade String Trio, research on grey seal vocalizations at St Andrews University and a new seal-inspired piece for the St Andrews New Music Ensemble conducted by Bede Williams, and a set of new spring wassailing songs written and researched with the support of a Canada Council for the Arts Grant to Professionals.


Social sounds from whales at night begins at 01:04 . 
For soprano or solo instrument and tape; commissioned by the Canada Council for Helen Pridmore (New Brunswick), 2007.

A Short, Slow Life begins at 9:37. Based on poetry by Elizabeth Bishop, for soprano and 10 instruments. Performed by Suzie LeBlanc and the Elizabeth Bishop Chamber Players, Dinuk Wijeratne conducting.

Music for Magpies, Movement 4 begins at 17:18, and Movement 5 begins at 19:23. To listen to this piece in full, visit: http://emilydoolittle.com/bird-and-animal-music/

Songs of Seals begins at 20:56. For narrator, children’s choir, and 7 instrumentalists; texts by Rody Gorman and Emily Doolittle; for the Voice Factory Youth Choir and the Paragon Ensemble; written with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Artist Trust, ASCAP and Creative Scotland. To listen to this piece in full, visit: 

Potato Wassail begins at 26:33. For SATB choir; poetry by Forrest Pierce; written with the support of a Canada Council for the Arts Grant to Professionals.
To listen to this piece in full, visit:  http://emilydoolittle.com/music/