Joseph Young, a Lowcountry resident and graduate of the University of South Carolina, has been appointed assistant conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and music director of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. Young assumes his new role June 1.
As assistant conductor, he will join the artistic leadership team of one of the country's most esteemed orchestras, working closely with its music director, Robert Spano. Young also will serve as the primary conductor for education and community concerts. His contract is for one year with the option to extend it. He replaces Jere Flint, who is retiring after 35 years as ASYO Music Director, 39 years as a staff conductor and 47 years as an ASO cellist.
"I know Joseph will be a strong and influential member of our artistic team who will continue to inspire our students to new heights," Spano said in a statement.
Young graduated from Goose Creek High School, then enrolled at Newberry College. He continued his education at the University of South Carolina, studying trumpet and composition. After his schooling in Columbia, Young took a job teaching band at D.W. Daniel High School in the town of Central.
His father was a Navy man who settled the family in Goose Creek when Young was a fourth-grader. The band program at school appealed to the newcomer.
"Dad wanted me to do something to keep me out of trouble," he said. So in sixth grade, Young picked up the trumpet, "because at that time, it was the only instrument I could actually make a sound out of."
Dedicated teachers and the thrill of making music quickly set Young on a path.
"Everything was band," he said. "I don't think I saw a violin or orchestra until I was 16."
That's when he attended the summer program of the Governor's School for the Arts in Greenville. There, Young was preparing for conservatory, taking lessons, studying music theory and conducting for the first time.
"From then on, I was hooked, I wanted to become a conductor," he said.
Young, 31, completed his graduate studies in conducting at the Peabody Conservatory in 2009. He was the first recipient of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra-Peabody Institute Conducting Fellowship and worked with the BSO through 2009.
Recently, he has conducted the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Tucson Symphony, Delaware Symphony Orchestra, and Orquestra Sinfonica do Porto Casa da Musica in Portugal. He was back home in 2012 conducting a Piccolo Spoleto program featuring highlights from Gershwin's "Porgy & Bess," Bernstein's "West Side Story" and Copland's "Rodeo."
Until last year, Young served as resident conductor of the Phoenix Symphony. This season, he has been freelancing, conducting concerts in Europe and the U.S. He will be assistant conductor for Spoleto Festival USA's production of Leos Janacek's opera "Kat'a Kabanova," helping to prepare the musicians and working closely with conductor Anne Manson.
He is living in the Charleston area at least until June, he said. This summer will be spent on planning for the upcoming seasons of the Atlanta Symphony and Youth Symphony, he said.
Young was one of eight candidates invited by the Atlanta Symphony to conduct the orchestra. Over two days, he led the musicians in renditions of the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra and Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun," conducted the Youth Symphony and gave a spoken presentation to staff.
He said he is especially pleased to have a chance to work with Spano and the young players of the Youth Symphony. Young will be active in education and outreach programming, too.
"I know I'm going to be a visible part of the community."