As the head of Global Human Resources for the Apple Corporation, Denise Young carved out a twenty-year career that proved both innovative and groundbreaking at one of America’s—and the world’s—most successful companies. During her tenure, a love of music and singing helped her to balance out roles as globe-trotting executive, wife and mother, and ultimately led to performances with A-list artists such as Grammy winner Larnelle Harris, Philip Bailey of Earth Wind and Fire, the Colorado Symphony, and friend and colleague Condoleezza Rice.
Coaching sessions with Barry Alexander and Cosmo Buono in order to refine her interest in the operatic repertoire of Verdi and Puccini would also include appearances in Italy as part of The Alexander & Buono Festival of Music, and two special guest appearances on the stage of Carnegie for the ABC Gala.
Expanding her interest from strictly classical repertoire over the years so as to re-visit strong ties to other musical idioms, she turned her attention to both jazz and more popular music to highlight a unique and personal style that is firmly rooted in the technique of her classical training, but which also has given way to a fusion approach that combines repertoire of different genres, in order to highlight their similarities versus their differences. It also led to her debut CD, Denise Young, Soprano (available on iTunes), which boasts a selection of operatic arrangements sung in tandem with jazz tunes, spirituals, and a cappella works, all performed in collaboration with Tuck and Patti Carthcart Andress, percussionist Juan Escovedo, and Grammy award-winning trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard.
Last year, the work of composer Thomas Nickell caught Ms. Young’s attention, and discussions about their respective forays in fusing musical genres created an evening-long discussion full of musical “What-Ifs?” It allowed them both to glimpse the unique talents they were respectively demonstrating, along with the possibility for the type of musical blending that had already become a trademark of Nickell’s burgeoning style of composition. Nickell played, and Young sang, as they turned each other’s improvisations into moments those lucky enough to hear them that evening would describe as “spontaneous and magical.”
Soon after, having discovered they both spoke different dialects of the same musical language, Mr. Nickell decided to write a piece for her, stipulating only that he be given the chance to premiere it with Ms. Young as part of the Annual ABC Gala, which will bring them both back to the stage of Carnegie Hall and their individual musical triumphs, as partners in a collaborative and innovative style that is destined to help redefine how we all listen to contemporary music in general, and classical music in particular.