Kenneth Young - conductor | composer
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Kenneth Young is one of New Zealand’s leading conductors who has established himself as a passionate and skilled interpreter of Romantic, 20th Century and contemporary repertoire. Himself a composer, he has received considerable recognition for his recordings of New Zealand and Australian orchestral music and is currently Composer in Residence for the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
Young took up the position of Principal Tuba with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in 1976 and his experience as a conductor with the NZSO dates from 1985, culminating in his appointment as the orchestra’s Conductor in Residence early in 1993. In 2001 he resigned from the NZSO in order to pursue his conducting and composing career fulltime.
Young has worked regularly with all the regional orchestras throughout New Zealand, and his engagements with the NZSO and the New Zealand Chamber Orchestra have 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. He also regularly conducts seasons with the Royal New Zealand Ballet Co. and the Australian Ballet.
Outside New Zealand, Young has worked with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, 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 and has received considerable praise for his recordings of Australian music.
In addition to his work as a performer and conductor, Young has become one of New Zealand’s leading composers. Numerous commissions from the NZSO, Chamber Music New Zealand, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, BBANZ, the International Festival of the Arts, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestra Wellington and Radio New Zealand, have been performed nationwide and also in the United States, Europe and Australia. Recent premiers include his ‘Portrait’ for Solo Violin and Orchestra with the NZSO and his Lux Aeterna with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, both to wide critical acclaim.
Since 1988 he has been a member of the music faculty of the New Zealand School of Music at Victoria University Wellington where he lectures in conducting and orchestration. In 2004 Young was awarded the Lilburn Trust Citation in Recognition of Outstanding Services to New Zealand Music.
"Kenneth Young shows a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of his craft. He is an excellent advocate for living composers, able to discern the creative intentions and translate them to actuality. He has a quick aural sense, and a capacity to rehearse efficiently ---- he has a flair for performance. Ken is always thoroughly prepared, and his work is well regarded by his orchestral colleagues. He is an alert and considerate accompanist, and all his work is informed by a first rate musical intelligence, he is an asset to our profession and I commend him to you with enthusiasm."
Richard Mills AM
“Kenneth Young is one of New Zealand’s most established professional conductors. Throughout his career, he has championed New Zealand music – conducting works by New Zealand composers in Scotland, Australia and – of course – (many) in New Zealand. He also conducted the NZSO in concerts and recordings associated with an Asia-Pacific Festival. It is a tribute to his musical abilities that he is undaunted by complex new scores.”
Peter Walls ONZM
(CEO New Zealand Symphony Orchestra 2002 - 2012/ Conductor)