The music of composer Nina C. Young, associate professor of composition at USC Thornton, is characterized by an acute sensitivity to tone color, manifested in aural images of vibrant, arresting immediacy. Her experience in the electronic music studio informs her acoustic work, which takes as its given not melody and harmony but sound itself, continuously metamorphosing from one state to another. Her musical voice draws from elements of the classical canon, modernism, spectralism, American experimentalism, minimalism, electronic music and popular idioms. Her projects strive to create unique sonic environments that can be appreciated by a wide variety of audiences while challenging stylistic boundaries, auditory perception and notions of temporality.
Young’s works have been presented by Carnegie Hall, the National Gallery, the Whitney Museum, LA Phil’s Next on Grand and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series. Her music has garnered international acclaim through performances by the American Composers Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Phoenix Symphony, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, the Argento Chamber Ensemble, Either/Or, the JACK Quartet, mise-en, wild Up and Yarn/Wire. Winner of the 2015-16 Rome Prize at the American Academy in Rome, Young has also received a Koussevitzky Commission, a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship, a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Salvatore Martirano Memorial Award, Aspen Music Festival’s Jacob Druckman Prize and honors from BMI, IAWM and ASCAP/SEAMUS.
Young’s current interests are collaborative, multidisciplinary works that touch on issues of sustainability, climate change, historical narratives and women’s rights. During the 2016-17 season, the American Composers Orchestra premiered Out of whose womb came the ice (commissioned by the Jerome Foundation) for baritone, orchestra, electronics and generative video, commenting on the ill-fated Ernest Shackleton trans-Antarctic expedition of 1914-17. Other commissions include a violin concerto for Jennifer Koh from the Philadelphia Orchestra, a new piece for the N.Y. Phil’s 2019-20 season and a new work for the EMPAC’s wavefield synthesis audio system with the American Brass Quintet.
Young joined the faculty at USC Thornton in the 2019-20 school year. Before USC, she taught at the University of Texas at Austin’s Butler School of Music, where she was an assistant professor of composition and director of the Electronic Music Studios.
A graduate of McGill University and MIT, Young completed her DMA at Columbia University. She is co-artistic director of New York’s Ensemble Échappé.