Bienen School of Music alumna Katherine Young ’17 DMA has been awarded a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition.

Guggenheim Fellowships are intended for individuals who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts. This year, the Guggenheim Foundation awarded 184 fellowships to a diverse group of artists, writers, scholars, and scientists from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants.

The fellowship will allow Young to complete a cycle of interconnected and mutually sustaining electro-acoustic solo and chamber music pieces, whose working title is Mycorrhizae. Initiated in 2020 amid the pandemic, these pieces are meditations on and explorations of community, accountability, and sustainability. 

Young is a composer, bassoonist, improviser, and scholar. The curious timbres, expressive noises, and kinetic structures of her electroacoustic music explore the dramatic physicality of sound, shifting interpersonal dynamics, and associations with the familiar and the strange.

She has been commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW, Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt, Third Coast Percussion, Ensemble Dal Niente, Bludenzer Tage zeitgemäßer Musik, Spektral Quartet, Weston Olencki, Fonema Consort, and others. She has also worked closely with Wet Ink, Ensemble Nikel, WasteLAnd and RAGE Thormbones, Distractfold Ensemble’s Linda Jankowska, Callithumpian Ensemble, Lucy Dehgrae, and Yarn/Wire. Her eight-channel outdoor sound installation, “Resonance and the Inhibition of,” was exhibited as part of the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art’s Chicago Sound Show in Fall 2019.

As a bassoonist and improviser, Young amplifies her instrument and employs a flexible electronics setup. Her debut solo album, Further Secret Origins, garnered praise in The Wire and Downbeat. She regularly performs in ad hoc improvised groups and with projects such as Beautifulish (duo with Bienen PhD student Sam Scranton) and Architeuthis Walks on Land (duo with Amy Cimini). She has documented her work on numerous recordings, including her quartet Pretty Monsters self-titled debut, a duo recording with Anthony Braxton, and the multi-movement work Diligence Is to Magic as Progress Is to Flight, created with violinist and Bienen alumnus Austin Wulliman ’08 MMus.

As a scholar, Young researches the incorporation of idiosyncratic electronics and improvisation in contemporary notated music. She has written about Anthony Braxton’s operatic work, in particular. Young joined the faculty of Emory University in 2020 and previously taught composition, electronic music, and improvisation at School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Berklee College of Music.

Young will participate in the virtual Northwestern University New-Music Conference (NUNC! 4) on Saturday April 24, hosted by the Bienen School of Music’s Institute for New Music.

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