Composer - Young, Ken

Piano Trio (premiered October 2015) – 17′

2015 is a busy year for Kenneth Young. He’s been composer in residence at the Auckland Philharmonia for the past couple of years, and he also has a CD of his orchestral music coming out with the NZSO, to celebrate a significant birthday in November – listen out for him as Composer of the Week on Radio NZ Concert. There’s also his teaching at the NZSM, his production work for Rattle, and his conducting – he works regularly with all the major orchestras in New Zealand and Australia – and he is probably best known for his orchestral music, having been Principal Tuba of the NZSO for some 25 years. However, he has also written a quantity of solo instrumental and chamber music, and describes it as ‘the acid test’ for a composer. ‘You’ve got to be very much on your game, because there’s nowhere to hide. It’s very good for honing the old technique.’  

This is his first piano trio:  

‘There’s no programme as such, but it’s not abstract, put it that way. When I began writing it I was feeling angry about a couple of things that were going on – political and societal issues here in New Zealand. My ire was raised, and when my ire is raised I always find it a good time to pick up a pen and take it out on a piece of manuscript paper – rather than anybody else! It’s quite a cathartic process for me – I’ve experienced that previously. So that’s why the trio starts angrily, and the first section continues on all fast and furious until it reaches the expressive part of the piece, when the tension dissipates somewhat and it becomes more melancholy. There’s a sad little waltz in the piano and a lament from Ashley, then an uplifting solo from Justine towards the end. I don’t want to say how it ends – that would spoil the surprise! But let’s just say, there are several mood swings in there. What I can say is I’ve loved writing it. They’re all friends of mine and it’s just a joy to be able to write for people who can play anything I put in front of them. They all get a chance to express themselves with slower-form music, but they also get a chance to engage us with their phenomenal technique.’

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