Kenneth Young is a composer, conductor, music producer, radio presenter and for many years lectured in composition, conducting and orchestration at the New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University, Wellington. In 2019 he moved to Dunedin to take up the Mozart Fellowship at the University of Otago.
As a composer, Young has had works commissioned by New Zealand and Australian orchestras and arts organisations including the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, New Zealand International Festival of the Arts and Chamber Music New Zealand. His works are regularly performed and broadcast in Australasia, Europe, and America.
His output includes symphonies and other assorted orchestral works, opera, concertos, various chamber works and piano music. He has been a finalist for the SOUNZ Contemporary Award on three occasions. The Strangest of Angels is Young’s second opera; the first being a commission from Simon O’Neill and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Man, Sitting in a Garden, with a libretto by Witi Ihimaera, which received its premier in 2019.
In 1976, Young was appointed Principal Tuba of the NZSO and first conducted the orchestra in 1985, becoming Conductor in Residence in 1993. In 2001, he resigned from the NZSO to become a full-time conductor, composer and recording artist for orchestras in New Zealand and Australia, as well as engagements in Japan and the United Kingdom.
He has particularly enjoyed the many opportunities to perform and record Australian and New Zealand repertoire on both sides of the Tasman and has received considerable praise for his recordings of orchestral music from both countries. He has been recorded by EMI, Atoll Records, Continuum, Trust Records, ABC Classics and Naxos.
In 2004 Young was awarded the Lilburn Trust Citation in Recognition of Outstanding Services to New Zealand Music Service.