Denise Young, Pianist Songwriter Composer
DENISE YOUNG – PIANIST, SONGWRITER, FILM COMPOSER
For pianist and composer, Denise Young, the path to becoming a professional musician seems a natural progression for this talented artist. Born in music tradition-rich St. Louis, Missouri, Denise was introduced to music through her musician father – also somewhat of a child prodigy, being self-taught on his mother’s player piano. She was also encouraged by her mother’s deep appreciation for music. As Denise recalls, “my mother often asked me to play ‘Love Is a Many Splendored Thing’ to lift her spirits. I believe that experiencing the positive effects of music is part of what led me into music therapy.”
Denise took to the piano with a natural affinity by first playing tunes by ear and began formal lessons at age five. Her piano teacher was strict and as her first recital approached, she was faced with a life-changing decision. The song she had to learn for the recital was “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and, according to her parents, Denise struggled with learning the piece and told her parents that she wanted to switch to dancing. “My father said that I had to choose between dancing and piano [lessons]. I made it through my first recital piece and decided to continue with piano lessons.” This proved to be a pivotal event, when Young made a lifetime commitment to the instrument.
…a work hailed by many as
her best recording to date.
From Young’s love of movie themes (learning them was part of her formal training) it was an easy transition to composing her own songs, which she did by the age of 14. At about the same time, she started playing professionally, accompanying her father on piano duets and even filling in for him when he went on breaks. Soon after, college beckoned and she attended local Maryville University, studying classical piano technique with concert pianist Dr. Katja Georgieff and eventually graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Music Therapy.Taking up a career as a music teacher and piano instructor, Denise continued composing her own unique style of music but she was puzzled as to how her style of music would be categorized should she ever decide to record it. Her “aha” moment came when she first heard the acclaimed George Winston song “December.” Denise had found a kindred spirit to whom she could musically relate. “From there, it felt as if my music finally had a home.” Over the years, her musical loves have included contemporary artists such as John Williams and Michael Nymann, as well as noted classical composers Chopin and Beethoven.
A major turning point occurred when she made a trip to Will Ackerman’s Vermont-based Imaginary Road Studios to record her second album, the well received, (nominated for Best Instrumental Piano Album at Zone Music Reporter) Something You Dream Of…(2007). Six years later, Denise returned to Vermont, and, once again, asking Ackerman to serve as producer, recorded Passionata, a work hailed by many as her best work todate.
Now living in southern California, Denise continues teaching music and giving piano lessons as well as doing great work in her field of music therapy. “I’ve seen many wonderful outcomes working with children with autism, learning challenges, teens, and adult stroke patients who were eventually able to sing and speak through music therapy techniques. As part of my music therapy practice, I created The Special Little Piano Book which has helped young children and those with developmental delays learn to play the piano.
Denise Young releases new album Passionata 2014
Eleven original compositions tell a story through classical and modern Victorian themes and motifs. Four pieces contain beautifully layered cello orchestration, three include authentic African percussion instruments, and one is accompanied by evocative vocal melodies.
Denise composed the score for the short film “Moretti”. The film was written, produced, and directed by Albert Salaz, Jr., starring Robert Costanzo (Total Recall, Saturday Night Fever, City Slickers) and shown at the LA Shorts Film Festival, August 2013. –
Denise’s music, “Autumn Colors” provides the score for the film short, “Leave My Flowers Alone”, written, produced, and directed by Albert Salaz, Jr., starring John Capodice (Ace Ventura, Skarkskin) and Jane Crawley (Speed, City of Industry) shown at the LA Shorts Film Festival, September 2012.
Pianist Songwriter Composer