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  • Kenneth Young

  • Born: 1955
  • Fully Represented SOUNZ Composer


Kenneth Young is one of New Zealand’s most well-known and performed composers with a professional career which has expanded over the past 40 years. Numerous commissions from Chamber Music New Zealand, the NZSO, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, the International Festival of the Arts, Radio New Zealand and all the regional orchestras of New Zealand have been regularly performed nationwide and also in Australia, Europe and America.

Recent premiers include Invocation and In Paradisum, both written for the APO during his Residency with that orchestra in 2014-15. Other recent premiers include Symphony #3 written for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and Woolston Brass and, most recently, a Piano Trio commissioned by NZTrio. He has twice been a finalist for the Sounz Contemporary Award while many of his works have been recorded by various artists, including the NZSO and Michael Houstoun. Most recently, five orchestral works dating from 2005 – 2014, featuring the NZSO with the composer conducting, has been released on a CD entitled Shadows and Light by Atoll Records.

Young began playing both tuba and percussion with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and National Youth Orchestra while studying composition at Canterbury and Auckland Universities. His interest in brass stemmed from his involvement with the brass band movement from the age of seven; an interest he still maintains having written many works for brass band.

In 1976 he was appointed Principal Tuba of the NZSO, a position which gave him the financial independence to also freely pursue his interest in composition and conducting. He was appointed the NZSO’s Conductor in Residence in 1991. He resigned his tuba position in 2001 to concentrate on a free-lance career.

Young regularly conducts the NZSO, APO and the other regional orchestras throughout New Zealand. His engagements with the NZSO and the New Zealand Chamber Orchestra have also included highly acclaimed CD recordings of the orchestral works of Douglas Lilburn, Edwin Carr, David Farquhar, Lyell Cresswell, Anthony Ritchie, Gareth Farr, Christopher Blake, Jack Body and many others.

Outside New Zealand, Young has worked with the Melbourne, Sydney, Queensland, Tasmanian, Adelaide and West Australian Symphony Orchestras, Orchestra Victoria, the City of Osaka Sinfonia, and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He has particularly enjoyed the many opportunities to perform Australian and New Zealand repertoire together in concert on both sides of the Tasman. He also works with the Royal New Zealand Ballet Co., Australian Ballet and the West Australian Ballet.

Since 1988 he has been a member of the music faculty at Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music at Victoria University, Wellington where he lectures in conducting and composition. In 2004 Young was awarded the Lilburn Trust Citation in Recognition of Outstanding Services to New Zealand Music.

Source: Kenneth Young

Selected Works

Dance for orchestra  
Five Pieces for Solo Piano  
Four Questions, No Answers for mixed chamber septet  
Lux Aeterna for full orchestra  
Piano Concerto for piano and orchestra  
Portrait for solo violin and small orchestra  
Remembering for violin and orchestra  
Symphony No. 2 for orchestra  
Virgen de la esperanza for orchestra  


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