Kenneth Young’s development as a composer began as a 15 year old while attending Cashmere High School in Christchurch where he came under the influence of his music teacher, Frank Dennis, who sensed an ability beyond Young’s involvement with the brass band movement, encouraging him to write, conduct, and embark on a course of serious music study.
About his early years, Young says, "one assimilates what one hears, and I was hearing everything, from little French miniatures through to ninety minute Bruckner symphonies, and hearing it all around me, which is probably, no, definitely, why I prefer to write for orchestra - it's my favourite instrument, it always has been. I relate to it well and I hear all its sounds in my head."
Young began playing both tuba and percussion with the Christchurch Symphony and National Youth Orchestra while studying composition at Canterbury and Auckland Universities, eventually being appointed Principal Tuba of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, a position which gave him the financial independence to freely pursue composition and conducting.
In 2004, Young was awarded a Lilburn Trust Citation Award for Outstanding Services to New Zealand Music. His work Symphony No. 2 was a finalist for the SOUNZ Contemporary Award 2005.
Kenneth Young A time and place there was (Five Pieces for solo piano) Michael Houstoun (piano) Rattle RAT D016
Kenneth Young Symphony (1988) NZSO/Kenneth Young TRUST MMT 2027
Kenneth Young Virgin de la Esperanza NZSO/Kenneth Young TRUST MMT 2027
Kenneth Young Dance NZSO/Kenneth Young TRUST MMT 2027
Kenneth Young Symphony No 2 NZSO/Kenneth Young ATOLL ACD 216
Kenneth Young Remembering Vesa-Matti Leppänen (vln), NZSO/Kenneth Young ATOLL ACD 216
Kenneth Young Lux Aeterna NZSO/Kenneth Young ATOLL ACD 216
Kenneth Young Four Questions, No Answers Southern Cross Soloists ABC recording
Kenneth Young Variations on a prayer Emma Sayers (piano), Richard Mapp (piano) RNZ recording
Kenneth Young Concerto for Euphonium and Orchestra Riki McDonnell (euphonium), NZSO/Kenneth Young RNZ recording