After 71 Years With Orchestra, She Fatally Collapses on Stage

Bassist Jane Little of the Atlanta Symphony was 87
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2016 8:11 AM CDT
A handout photo of Jane Little from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.   (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra)

(Newser) – Jane Little began playing with the brand-new Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at age 16. On Sunday, 71 years later, she died after collapsing on stage during a performance with the same group, reports CNN. "Truly unbelievable," says a spokesperson for the ASO. The 87-year-old bassist never regained consciousness after her collapse. The tune being played at the time: "There's No Business Like Show Business," notes the Washington Post. Earlier this year, the Guinness World Record book recognized her as having the longest tenure with a single orchestra. Little had planned to retire after this season and form a jazz band for seniors, she had told 11Alive in an interview before her death.

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution pointed out in a February story about the world record, the feat is "even more remarkable when you consider that she plays an instrument more than a foot taller than she is." That story quotes Timothy Cobb, principal bassist with the New York Philharmonic, who calls it "mind-boggling" given the "brute force" required to play the instrument on the symphony level. What's more, Little weighed 98 pounds, was battling cancer, and had recently fallen and cracked a vertebrae. “It takes so much, to push those metal strings down against the fingerboard,” she said. "I just kept on." (Read more obituary stories.)

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