Atlanta Symphony Orchestra musician sets world record

Atlanta symphony player makes history

ATLANTA -- UPDATE: 11Alive learned that Jane Little, the 87-year-old double bass player for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, was transported to a local hospital while playing in the orchestra, and later passed away. She was doing what she loved, performing an encore of "There's No Business Like Show Business."

More on her passing, here.

An 87-year-old member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is striking a chord with officials at Guinness World Records.

Jane Little, a double bass player with the orchestra is starting her seventy-first uninterrupted season - a feat that set the world record for being the longest tenured player in the world - performing with the same symphony orchestra.

 “I wanted to be a ballerina dancer but my feet would not cooperate,” Little said. “I loved music so much that I started dreaming of being an opera singer.”

That was in the early 1940's when Little was a student at the Atlanta Girls High School.

“We need a bass player and the basses were sitting on a rack and I said, 'What?'," she said.

That was the start of her musical career.

She fell in love with double bass.

At 4 feet 11 inches tall, she chose the biggest and bulkiest instrument in the orchestra.

 

It was the double bass that topped off at 6 feet 5 inches.

She was so good that in 1944 she was tapped for the Atlanta Youth Orchestra which three years later became the Atlanta Symphony.

And Little never left - that was 71 years ago.

And in a week in early February she celebrated her 87 birthday and is still going strong - practicing four to five hours a day with strength, conviction and concentration that pales younger players.

She has succeeded despite playing an instrument dominated by stronger men who she said have much bigger hands that can handle the difficult string movements more easily.

“I must be the smallest bass player in the country right now in a major symphony,” she said. “I’ve had to work a lot harder to do what I do.”

 

With a decision to retire after the season, Little will leave behind a huge legacy with her inclusion in the Guinness Book of World Records.

As the orchestra helped her celebrate her birthday at a rehearsal, she started thinking about what comes next.

“I’ve always wanted to play a bass guitar - an electric bass guitar - and now I’m going to get one and play around with it," she said. "Who knows, I might just start a little group called 'The Grannies' or something like that.”

11Alive will keep tabs on the new group when it forms and continue to follow an amazing musician's journey - maybe even right back to Symphony Hall.

Until then, the Atlanta Symphony concert on Thursday, Feb. 4, marks the seventy-first anniversary - to the exact date - of Little's first concert with the young orchestra those many years ago in 1945.

It's a major anniversary for a group - and a woman - at the center of music in Atlanta.

PHOTOS | Atlanta Symphony Orchestra member sets world record

 

 


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