World's longest-serving orchestra musician, 87, dies during encore performance

Jane Little at the Atlanta Symphony Hall in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, on Feb 4, 2016.
Jane Little at the Atlanta Symphony Hall in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, on Feb 4, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

There's No Business Like Show Business.

That was the big band tune 87-year-old Jane Little was playing on Sunday (May 15) when she collapsed on stage doing what she loved, and later died.

Little, who held the Guinness World Record holder for the longest-serving member of a symphony, was in the last few bars of the encore performance.

She has played the double bass for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for 71 years, since she was 16.

The orchestra announced her death on its Facebook page with a post that said: "We can say that Jane was fortunate to do what she loved until the very end of her storied life and career."

It added: "This past February, Jane was celebrated by her friends, family and community as she took the Guinness World Record for longest tenure with an orchestra, a beautiful finale to her career."

She was a rare woman player of the large instrument, and was the orchestra's only female musician for years, NBC News reported.

At 87 years old, the dimunitive (150cm tall) musician played an instrument that requires great physical strength with ease.

She returned to the stage this season despite suffering last year a back injury that required her to rest for four months.

She told NBC in an interview in March that this was going to be her final season with the orchestra.

Her late husband, Warren Little, was the orchestra's principal flautist. He died in 2002 and they had no children.