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David Young : Represented Artist

Young's music has been variously described as 'musical origami' and 'quietly determined to be itself...an aural equivalent of seeing a world in a grain of sand'

Random Audio Sample: The Minotaur trilogy (chamber opera) by David Young, from the CD Minotaur trilogy

Photo of David Young

Artist website: http://www.aphids.net

"Thousands of Bundled Straw' is complex, subtly nuanced and infinitesimally crafted. Every sound and gesture seems precisely calculated, yet the music retains freshness and immediacy…The work is dreamlike, floating just outside consciousness." Chris Reid, RealTime

David Young is a composer and the artistic director of the cross-artform company Aphids (Melbourne). His music is performed in Australia, Europe, the US and Asia, in contexts ranging from concerts to music theatre and installation. His music has been commissioned and performed by ensembles and musicians including the Ives Ensemble (The Netherlands), Fritz Hauser (Switzerland), Æquatuor (Switzerland), Norio Sato (Japan), Tosiya Suzuki (Japan), Yasutaka Hemmi (Japan), Manufacture Ensemble (Japan), Champ d'Action (Belgium), Ensemble 2000 (Denmark), and Australia's Elision, The Song Company, Libra Ensemble, Australian Youth Orchestra, Speak Percussion, Michael Kieran Harvey, Ensemble Offspring and Aphids.

As a composer he is preoccupied with exploring the relationship between sound and image, employing intricate and often miniature formats in unconventional settings. The music has been variously described as 'musical origami', 'accessible, yet satisfyingly abstract' and 'quietly determined to be itself … an aural equivalent of seeing a world in a grain of sand'.

As artistic director of Aphids, David curates and collaborates on cross-artform projects. including:

  • Yakumo Honjin, a music installation for the Drum Turret of Matsue Castle, Japan, inspired by the 280 year old samurai hotel of the same name, March 2009;
  • Care Instructions, a poetic reverie written by Cynthia Troup and directed by Margaret Cameron, created and premiered in 2008;
  • Waiting to Turn into Puzzles, a music film collaboration with Louise Curham for Ensemble Offspring, premiered in Sydney and Melbourne, July 2008;
  • Underground, a miniature percussion collaboration with Rosemary Joy that toured to Holland, Belgium, Italy and Japan, June/July 2007;
  • Music at Mt Egerton, chamber opera and community cultural development project in a disused claymine near Ballarat;
  • Val Camonica Pieces, a chamber music and multimedia production with the Libra Ensemble, inspired by rock-carvings in Italy's Camonica Valley, presented as part of Full Tilt at the Arts Centre, May 2007;
  • Schallmachine, a Swiss/Australian collaboration across music and architecture for the 2006 Melbourne International Arts Festival and Different Beat festival, Basel, Switzerland, January 2007;
  • A Quarreling Pair based on Jane Bowles' puppet play with sellout seasons for the Melbourne International Arts Festival and the Malthouse Theatre, 2004/2005/2006;
  • Matt Gardiner's Oribotics [laboratory] combining robotics, origami and music, premiere at the Sidney Myer Asia Centre, 2005; public art installation at Federation Square, Melbourne International Arts Festival 2007;
  • Chamber opera and sound installation Overheard at Inveresk, 2001, commissioned by Robyn Archer for the inaugural Ten Day on the Island;
  • Libra Ensemble and Aphids' acclaimed presentation of his song cycle, Thousands of Bundled Straw, 2005;
  • the multimedia work Skin Quartet toured to four continents: Sydney Opera House, the USA, Belgium and South Africa, 2003/2005;
  • Scale, an Aphids residency at the MUSiCLAB program at Bains::Connective, a socio-artistic laboratory based in an art deco, disused, indoor swimming pool in the Moroccan quarter of Brussels, 2004;
  • Maps, a music theatre film text collaboration between Aphids and its sister company in Denmark with performances in Melbourne (November 2000) and Copenhagen (October 2002);
  • Ricefields, an electro-acoustic installation/performance which toured Australia, France and Japan, 1998/1999;

David Young was director of the 2002 Next Wave Festival, Melbourne's multi-artform festival which showcased new work by over 600 young artists. He is vice-president of the New Music Network (Sydney), board member of RealTime arts magazine, and co-founder of SoFA (Social Firms Australia).

Biography provided by the composer — current to March 2009

Studied with

Brenton Broadstock (1990 - 1993)

Liza Lim (1991)

Michael Hewes (1998 - current)


Collaborated with

Carl Rosman (1991 - current)

Natasha Anderson (1997 - 2006)

Eugene Ughetti (2002 - current)


Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for
2013 Art Music Awards: Award for Excellence by an Organisation or an Individual Finalist (Individual) 20 years of commissioning, curating and producing new Australian art music.
2013 Art Music Awards: Award for Excellence by an Individual Finalist 20 years of commissioning, curating and producing new Australian art music
1999 Paul Lowin Song Cycle Prize Highly Commended Thousands of Bundled Straw V

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Waiting to turn into puzzles (audiovisual work) Commissioned by Aphids (Musical group).
Digital sheet music sample Thousands of bundled straw III : for soprano, oboe, violoncello & pianoforte Commissioned by Æquatuor (Musical group).
Not music yet (solo piano) (2012) Commissioned by Zubin Kanga.
The Minotaur trilogy (chamber opera) (2011) Co-commissioned by Ten Days on the Island and Dr Peta Gillingham, as part of the New Music Network 2011 Series.
Esaurita (Breakdown) (flugelhorn with piano) (2010) Commissioned by Madeleine Flynn, Tim Humphrey.
Digital sheet music sample Natura morta : for solo percussionist (2009) Commissioned by Eugene Ughetti.

Analysis & Media

- Program note: David Young's "Thousands of Bundled Straw"

- Program note: Lacrimae Rerum

- Review: The Song Company Modern Art Series Tears of Things 17 June 2001

- Review: The Song Company Cage Uncaged 15 September 2007

- Review: The Song Company Cage Uncaged 15 September 2007

- Video: David Young (Yung?), a portrait