Jane Little, a fixture with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for over 71 years, and a Guinness World Record holder for longest tenured orchestra player, collapsed and died onstage during an ASO performance on Sunday, May 15th. Though the passing of the beloved 87-year-old bassist prompted great sadness and reflection amid Atlanta’s arts community (and beyond), it should be stressed that she died doing what she loved – somewhat fittingly, the orchestra was playing a rendition of “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” the encore for that particular afternoon’s performance.
Little debuted as the ASO’s bassist on February 4th, 1945 when she was just 16. Although the symphony did not specify a cause of death, Little had been undergoing chemotherapy recently for myeloma, and had reportedly complained of weakness during the previous night’s performance.
“We can say that Jane was fortunate to do what she loved until the very end of her storied life and career,” the ASO said on its Facebook page. “The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra was truly blessed to have Jane as part of our family for the past 71 years and we all miss her passion, vitality, spirit and incredible talent.”