Canadian-born, Scotland-based composer Emily Doolittle grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia and was educated at Dalhousie, Indiana University, Princeton University, and the Koninklijk Conservatorium in the Hague, where she studied with Louis Andriessen with the support a Fulbright fellowship. From 2008-2015 she was an Associate Professor of Music at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. She now lives in Glasgow, UK, where she is an Athenaeum Research Fellow at the Royal Conservatoire of 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 Montreal, the Motion Ensemble (Canada), the Paragon Ensemble (Glasgow), soprano Suzie LeBlanc, viola 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 Glasgow by Ensemble Thing in October, 2016, and a concerto for Canadian bassoonist Nadina Mackie Jackson.

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.

A CV can be downloaded here.

Emily Doolittle – Composer – Curriculum Vitae


Athenaeum Research Fellow, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Glasgow, UK), 2016-present
Composer, Private music instructor (Glasgow, UK), 2015-present
Associate Professor of Music Composition, Cornish College of the Arts (Seattle, WA), 2012-2015
Assistant Professor of Music Composition, Cornish College of the Arts (Seattle, WA), 2008-2012
Composer, Private music instructor (Montreal, QC), 2003-2008


PhD in Music Composition, Princeton University, 2007
MMus in Music Composition, Indiana University, 1999
Eerste Fase, Koninklijk Conservatorium (the Hague, Netherlands). Fulbright grant to study with Louis Andriessen, 1997-99
Dalhousie University, B.Mus. in composition, 1995

Awards, Fellowships, and Honours

Canada Council Professional Development Grant to write and workshop Jan Tait and the Bear (2014)
SOCAN Residency Grant (2014)
A Short Slow Life nominated for East Coast Music Award Classical Composition of the Year; included on winning Classical Recording of the Year (I Am in Need of Music); finalist for Masterworks Award (2014)
ASCAP Standard Awards (2000-2014)
Sorel Organization Recording Grant (2013)
Jack Straw Artist Support Residency (2013)
Seattle CityArtists Grant (2013)
Theodore Front Prize (IAWM) for “A Short, Slow Life” (2012)
Eric Stokes Fund (2011)
Artist Trust GAP grant for Songs of Seals (2011)
Canada Council Professional Development Grant to write 8 pieces for the National Youth Choir of Scotland, in collaboration with Gaelic poet Rody Gorman (2011)
Culture and Animals Foundation Award (2011)
Cornish College Faculty Development Grant (2009, 2011, 2013)
Canada Council Professional Development Grant for 3 months of research in Scotland (2008-2009)
Finalist, Prix Opus (Quebec) for best premiere of the year for . . . and some fireworks (2007)
Conseil des arts et Lettres du Quebec, 3-month residency at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, Scotland (spring, 2007)
Canada Council Development Grant to write 20 short piano pieces for children (2005)
Canada Council Travel Grant to participate in Banff Winter Residency (2005)
Nova Scotia Arts Council Professional Development Grant (2004, 1999-2000)
Composer-in-residence, Mostar Contemporary Music Festival, Bosnia (2004)
Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation of Canada Award for Graduate Women (2003)
Composer-in-residence for Oregon East Symphony (2002-2003)
Composer-in-residence at Scotia Festival of Music (May 27-June 10, 2001)
ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Awards (2001, 2000)
Roger Sessions Fellowship, Princeton University (2000-02)
Naumberg Fellowship, Princeton University (1999-2000, 2002-2003)
Generation 2000 project, Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal (1999-2000)
Nova Scotia Talent Trust Awards (1998-99, 1995, 1992-93)
Fulbright Scholarship to study in Amsterdam with Louis Andriessen (1997-98)
Joseph H. Bearns Prize (Columbia University) for “Weather Songs” (1997)
Full teaching assistantship at Indiana University (1995-97)
Dalhousie University Medal in Music (1995)
Dalhousie Alumnae Association Music Award (1995)

Selected Commissions

migrations (2015); commissioned by the Musings Ensemble (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Jan Tait and the Bear
(2012-2015); written with the support of the Canada Council, for two voices and chamber ensemble; commissioned by ffancytunes (Shetland, UK)
7 Duos for Bird or Strings (2012); for violin and viola; commissioned by the Eric Stokes Foundation, Artist Trust GAP, and the Canada Council for Annette-Barbara Vogel and Dan Sweaney
Songs of Seals (2011); for narrator, children’s choir and chamber ensemble; commissioned by the Paragon Ensemble for The Paragon Ensemble and the Voice Factory Youth Choir (Glasgow and Skye, UK)
A Short, Slow Life (2011); for soprano and orchestra, based on a poem by Elizabeth Bishop; commissioned by Suzie LeBlanc for Suzie LeBlanc and Symphony Nova Scotia (Nova Scotia)
Folie à Deux (2011); for flute and harpsichord; commissioned by Kate Clark and Cléo Palacio-Quintin (Montreal)
Reeds (2010); for reed trio and dancer; commissioned by the Umbrella Ensemble for performance at the Newfoundland Sound Symposium 2010 (Newfoundland)
Sorex (2010); for piano four-hands; commissioned by the Fung-Chiu Duo (Montreal)
Body of Wood (2009); for soprano, Bohlen-Pierce clarinet, cello and percussion; commissioned by Canada Council for Transpectra (Ontario)
The Wise Daughter (2009); for narrator, violin and piano; commissioned by Talespin (Austria)
Gliese 581 c (2008); for solo piano; commissioned by Redshift for Rachel Iwaasa (Vancouver)
Nocturne (2008); for solo alphorn; commissioned by Michael Cumberland (Ontario)
Paths (2008); for flute and harp; commissioned by Laurel Phillipson for Tacye Phillipson (Yorkshire, England)
Social sounds from whales at night (2007); soprano and tape; Canada Council commission for Helen Pridmore (New Brunswick)
…and some fireworks (2007); Conseil des Arts de Montréal commission for Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal (Quebec)
Why the parrot repeats human words (2005); for narrator, clarinet, viola and percussion; Canada Council commission for Meduse (Canada)
Le loup, la chèvre, et le chevreau (2005); for soprano, tenor, 8 flutes and cello; Nova Scotia Arts Council commission for Ensemble Alizé (Montreal)
Go Down, Moses (2005); commissioned by the Albany Symphony (New York State)
all spring (2004); for soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, bass and percussion; Canada Council commission for Motion Ensemble (New Brunswick)
green/blue (2003); commissioned by the Oregon East Symphony (Oregon)
music for magpies (2003); for viola da gamba with quarter-tone frets; for Karin Preslmayr (Netherlands)
col (2002); for violin and marimba; Netherland-America Foundation grant for Entropy (Netherlands)
minute etudes (book II) (2002); for solo piano; commissioned by Ben Binder
Child’s Play (2002); for soprano and piano; Nova Scotia Arts Council Creation Grant for Janice Jackson and Eve Egoyan (Canada)
Dance (2001); FIRST MUSIC commission for the New York Youth Symphony (New York City)
green notes (2001); commissioned by CBC for Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra (Ontario)
falling still (2001); commissioned by the Canada Council for Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra
Virelais (2001); for soprano and viola da gamba; Nova Scotia Arts Council Creation Grant for “Virelais” for Janice Jackson and Thomas Georgi (Canada)
four pieces about water (2000); for 9 instruments; Ensemble Contemporain de Montreal, “Four Pieces About Water” (Quebec)
night black bird song (1999); for 2 piccolos/flute and 3 percussion; SCI/ASCAP commission for New York University New Music Ensemble (New York City)


All Spring, chamber music by Emily Doolittle, Seattle Chamber Players and friends, Composers Concordance, 2015
Suppose I was a Marigold
, recorded by Nicole Ge Li and Corey Hamm, Redshift Records, 2015
A Short, Slow Life, recorded by Suzie Leblanc and Symphony Nova Scotia, CD, 2013
Social sounds from whales at night recorded by Catherine Lee, Teal Creek Records, 2013
Falling Still recorded on CD of new music for oboe, Ashley Barrett, Centaur Records, 2012
Social sounds from whales at night, CD of solo voice works recorded by Helen Pridmore, CentreDiscs 2012
Gliese 581c recorded on Cosmophony, Rachel Iwaasa, 2010 and RedshiftX, 2012
Airs of Men Long Dead recorded on The Ice Age and Beyond, Patricia Green and Midori Koga, Blue Griffin, 2008
Weather Songs recorded on Concertzender Live 02 Dutch New Music, Muziekgroep Nederland, 2004
night black bird song recorded on SCI CD Milestones, Capstone Records, 2002


“Quick Guide to Zoomusicology,” in Current Biology, in press, 2015

“Music Theory is For the Birds,” in Sound in the Land, Conrad Grebel Press, in press, 2015.

“Overtone-based pitch selection in hermit thrush song: Unexpected convergence with scale construction in human music”, co-authored with Bruno Gingras, Dominik M. Endres, and W. Tecumseh Fitch, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (PNAS), November 2014.

“Animal Music”, with Peter Slater, Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, September 2014

“O Canto do Uirapuru: Consonant Intervals and Pattern in the Song of the Musician Wren,” co-authored with Henrik Brumm, Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies, October, 2013

“Animal Sounds or Animal Songs?”, The Journal of Music,, July, 2012

“Crickets in the Concert Hall,” TRANS: Transcultural Music Review, June, 2008

Guest composer/Artist in residence

Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Seewiesen, Germany (August-December 2011)
Technosonics XI, University of Virginia (November 18-19, 2010)
New Frontiers: the Laramie Contemporary Music Project (September 20-25, 2010)
Asolo Song Festival, Italy (May, 2009)
Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow (April-June, 2007)
Mostar Contemporary Music Festival, Bosnia (July, 2004)
Oregon East Symphony (2002-2003)
Scotia Festival of Music (May 27-June 10, 2001)

Residencies, artist colonies, invitational workshops

MacDowell Colony (2012, 2004)
Icicle Creek Music Center (2012)
Helen Riaboff Whitely Center, Friday Harbour (2012, 2011)
Centrum, Artist-in-residence (January, February, 2011)
Blue Mountain Center (June/July, 2006, September, 2002)
Ucross Foundation (March, 2006)
National Arts Centre Young Composers Program (2005)
Banff Centre for the Arts, Long-Term Residency (winter 2005)
Soundstreams/David Earle Composer/Choreographer Workshop (May, 2004)
Banff Centre for the Arts, Leighton Studios Residency (2002, 2001, 2000)
International Young Composers Conference (Apeldoorn, Holland, 1999)

Presentations (refereed papers, invited lectures, radio appearances, etc.)

American Musicological Society Regional Conference, April 18, 2015
Bowdoin College, Feb. 12-13, 2015
Glasgow University/RSPB, Dec. 3, 2014
St. Andrews University, Animal Behaviour Discussion Group, Nov. 10, 2014
Glasgow University, Nov. 4, 2014
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Exchange Talk, Glasgow, UK, Oct. 27, 2014
Music for Magpies and Social sounds from whales at night included in Journées Art et Science, Musinfo France, May 2014
Sound in the Land, Waterloo, ON, June 5-8, 2014
Podium 2014, Halifax, NS, May 17, 2014
University of Tacoma, Tacoma, WA, April 28, 2014
College Music Society Conference, Missoula, MT, April 10, 2014
San Francisco Art Institute, Nov. 26, 2013
University of Western Washington, Nov. 4, 2013
University of Washington, Friday Harbor Labs, Oct. 26, 2013
Colin McEnroe Show, WNPR, invited guest, June 12, 2013
North American Ornithological Conference, birdsong and music (poster), Vancouver, BC, August 15-16, 2012
International Bioacoustics Congress, hermit thrush song (poster), La Rochelle, France, September 2011
Port Townsend School of Athens, guest composer, April 10, 2011
College Music Society Conference, Moscow Idaho, April 1, 2011
University of British Columbia, guest lecturer, March 12, 2011
Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, guest lecturer, Feb. 11, 2011
International Conference of Music Perception and Cognition, hermit thrush song (poster), August 29, 2010
See Further Festival (the Royal Society), London, UK, invited panelist on music and science, June 30, 2010
BBC, Start the Week (weekly culture program with Andrew Marr), invited guest, June 28, 2010
Whitworth University, Spokane WA, invited lecturer/guest composer, April 15, 2010
Horizon House, Seattle, WA, invited speaker, March 10, 2010
American Musicological Society Annual Conference, invited panelist on ecomusicology, Nov. 13, 2009
Duke University, invited lecture for graduate composers, Oct. 9, 2009
Florida State University, guest lecture on my music, June 11, 2009
Listening to Birds Conference, invited speaker, University of Aberdeen, UK, May 31-June 2, 2009
University of Aberdeen, invited speaker, composition seminar, Feb. 20, 2009
Jack Straw, presentation on my music, Seattle, WA, Jan. 16, 2009
University of Puget Sound, guest lecture on Canadian Music, October, 2008
Nightingala conference, invited speaker, Kallio Kuninkala, Finland, June 12-13, 2008
Canadian University Music Society, From Ethnomusicology to Zoomusicology, UBC, June 5-8, 2008
Alliance for Canadian New Music Projects, composition instructor, 2007
English Language Arts Network, Montreal, invited panelist on successful grant writing, 2007
CKUT (Montreal), Free Radicals: Science and Culture, interviewed by Robyn Fadden, 2007
McGill University, guest lecture on animal songs and my music, (anthropology and musicology), 2007
CBC Ideas, Canada-wide broadcast, The Secret Voice of Nature, interviewed by George Tombs, 2007
University of Puget Sound, invited to give lectures and a composition master class, 2006

Previous Employment

1988 – present              — private teacher of piano, oboe, recorder, theory, and ear training
2005, 1994 – 1997       — Young Artist Co-ordinator, Scotia Festival of Music
2000 – 2002                 — Teaching Assistant at Princeton University
1996 – 1999                   — (summers only) Assistant Administrator, Ecoles d’Art Américains, Fontainebleau, France
1998 – 1999                   — Theory Instructor at The British School in the Netherlands (Voorschoten)
1995 – 1997                   — Associate Instructor of Music Theory at Indiana University
1991 – 1995                    — Oboe Instructor at Maritime Conservatory of Music
1988 – 1992                   — accompanist for Halifax Unitarian Church

Upcoming Events

  • The Craft Ensemble will be performing falling still on February 3, 2018 at 7:30 at the Third Life Studio in Somerville, MA
  • The St Andrews New Music Ensemble, conducted by Bede Williams, will premiere Conversation, with words by Eleonore Schönemaier on February 21, 2018 at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews, Scotland, as part of St Andrews New Music Week
  • Oboist James Turnbull will be performing Social sounds from whales at night on February 25, 2018 at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews, Scotland, as part of St Andrews New Music Week.
  • The Midlands Chorale, conducted by Daniel Galbreath, will be giving the official premiere of Three Summer Wassails, with texts by Forrest Pierce on March 24, 2018 at the Catholic Cathedral in Shrewsbury, UK.

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