David Young is a composer and has been the Artistic Director of Chamber Made Opera since January 2010.
David Young is a composer and has been the Artistic Director of Chamber Made Opera since January 2010. Since taking on this role, he has transformed the company, remarkably commissioning more than 10 new Australian chamber operas, working with artists and musicians across the spectrum of arts practice and style.
With Margaret Cameron he is currently composing, directing and presenting the Minotaur Trilogy, the first part of which premiered on Bruny Island as part of Ten Days on the Island.
David was the founding Artistic Director of Aphids which remains one of Australia’s most innovative cross-artform producing organisations. Over his 15 years in this role, David created performance projects with a great number of Australian and international artists.
David’s music is performed in Australia, Europe and Asia, in contexts ranging from concerts to music theatre and installation. 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’.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Ever since miming to Abba songs as a 4 year old, I have wanted to be involved in music and performance. I quickly realized that my singing voice was too low to ever be Agnetha, so I started focusing on composing, and working behind-the-scenes to make performances happen.
When did you know you would work in the arts?
Ever since miming to Abba as a 4 year old…
How would you describe your work to a complete stranger?
I run Australia’s only contemporary chamber opera company, making opera as you’ve never seen it before.
Is there a mission to your work?
I believe in the capacity of art to change the way we think. It is always this change, this impact at a very deep level, that I am searching for in the art that I am involved in.
What's your background – what did you study to get to where you are?
I studied music and composition at university (under-grad at Melbourne and PhD at Queensland), but my first career was teaching gymnastics at a very highly competitive level – excellent training for the arts.
What's the first thing career related you usually do each day?
Can you describe an "average" working day for you?
There really is no average day at Chamber Made Opera. I’m not even in the office every day, as my work takes me to rehearsals, living rooms, meetings with artists and presenters, galleries, schools, adventure playgrounds, although I almost always have dozens of emails to read and reply to, and every work day involves lots of planning and talking and wrestling with ideas with my incredible colleagues.
What's the one thing - piece of equipment, toy, security blanket, – you can't work without?
Faxblac felt-tip pens.
What gets you fired up?
New conceptual space: when I experience or hear about something that stretches the limits of what I thought was possible.
Who in the industry most inspires you?
Writer, performer and Chamber Made Opera’s Resident Director, Margaret Cameron.
What in the industry do you despair about?
I’m an optimist and although there are many challenges for artists and arts companies in this century, I have great hope for the role of the arts as we are forced to tackle some of the fundamentals in society, and indeed the world.
What is the best thing about your job?
The people I work with.
What’s the most challenging aspect?
The people I work with.
What are the top three skills you need in this industry?
Flexibility, spontaneity and attention to detail.
What advice would you give anyone looking to break into your field?
Learn how to use Excel (advanced), and do it because you love doing it, not because you want to make it big.
How do you know when you missed the mark?
My dad is my most honest and reliable reviewer – he has seen nearly everything I’ve made, and always tells me what he thinks.
Which of the below phrases best suits your career development to date and why?
a. "The road to success is always under construction. "
b. "Opportunity dances with those who are already on the dance floor."
c. "Success is best measured by how far you've come with the talents you've been given. "
d. "No one can cheat you out of ultimate success but yourself."
None of the above. ‘The wise leader has learned how painful it is to fake knowledge.’ (The Tao of Leadership, trans, John Heider)
When do you know you’ve made it?
I can’t imagine reaching a point of stasis just yet, and ‘making it’ seems to have a lot to do with what everyone else thinks, whereas I have always been my own most exacting critic.