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Red Contributor

Kenneth Young

Arranger, Composer, Performer, Presenter, Publisher

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Born: 1955


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 No. 3 written for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and Woolston Brass and, most recently, a Piano Trio commissioned by NZTrio. He has three times 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, 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.

Composed (55)

Autumn Arabesque

for harp

Beacons of Hope

for soprano, SATB choir and orchestra

Brass Quintet No.1

for 2 trumpets, horn, trombone and tuba, 24m

Concertino for Horn

for horn and orchestra


for tuba and orchestra, 25m

Concerto for Euphonium and Orchestra

for solo euphonium and full orchestra, 23m


for orchestra, 14m

Dona eis requiem

for soprano, children's choir and orchestra

Douce Tristesse

for orchestra, 10m


for saxophone quartet

Elusive Dream

for piano, 2m

Fantasy for Two Pianos

for piano duo, 10m

Five Pieces

for piano, 26m 30s

Four Questions, No Answers

for mixed chamber septet


for solo violin


for solo flute, 4m

Homage to Chopin

for piano

Homage to Ravel

for piano

In Paradisum

for choir, vocal soloists and orchestra


for orchestra

Lux Aeterna

for full orchestra, 16m


for string quartet


for solo trombone, 3m 57s


for brass band

Piano Concerto

for piano and orchestra, 25m

Piano Trio

for violin, cello and piano


for solo violin and small orchestra, 20m


for tuba and piano, 4m


for oboe, tuba, harp, 3m


For Cello and Piano, 8m

Prelude and March

for brass band

Prelude for Kerkrade

for brass band


for brass band


for violin and orchestra


for brass band

Saffire Concerto

for orchestra and guitar quartet


for oboe, tuba and harp, 12m


for string quartet, clarinet and piano, 30m


for orchestra, 15m

Sonata In One Movement

for double bass and roto toms, 10m


for guitar, 11m

Suite for Solo Cello

for solo cello, 25m

Suite for Violin and Guitar

for violin and guitar, 11m


for orchestra, 42m

Symphony No. 2

for orchestra, 25m

The Enchanted Dance Hall

for brass band, 15m

The last rose of Summer (arr.)

for violin and harp, 5m

Three Sad Waltzes

for solo guitar, 7m

Top Notch

for orchestra

Trois Chants De Douleur (Three Songs of Sorrow)

for tenor or mezzo-soprano with flute and viola, 10m

Variations on a Prayer

for piano duet


for trumpet, horn, and trombone

Virgen de la esperanza

for orchestra, 15m

Arranged (2)

Mahler: Songs of a Wayfarer, arr. Young

for violin, cello, piano and tenor

The Maori Merchant of Venice

music for film, 53m