Kit Young recently returned to Washington, DC from living twenty years in Asia. She pursued a career as solo and collaborative pianist and improviser/composer organizing concerts, festivals and exchanges with Asian colleagues in both contemporary and traditional music from Thailand, Burma, Malaysia and China. Ms. Young’s absorption of Asian music, particularly Thai and Burmese, originates from her childhood living in Thailand studying Thai instruments, and a lifelong quest to answer the question of how to hear and perform music from another culture and let it inform one’s own musical trajectory. Since 1987, Ms. Young has studied the Sandaya tradition, a Burmese music style performed on the piano. She worked with Burma’s greatest composer and sandaya player, Gita Lulin U Ko Ko, among others, and has performed extensively with Burmese musicians and dancers. Her 1991 debut performances of Burmese music atNew York’sMetropolitanMuseum and Symphony Space were broadcast toBurma by the Voice of America.
In 2004, Ms. Young founded with Burmese colleagues Gitameit Music Center– the only secular institution offering a holistic study of higher standard Western classical, jazz, and Burmese traditional music. Work with Burmese theater artists, poets and musicians led to her compositions for two collaborative theater-media productions awarded grants by the Asian Cultural Council: Nya La Ka and The Monsters of Inya Lake. Young’s songs, in a setting of the poetry of U San Oo for baritone and accompanying instruments, were performed by Thomas Buckner and colleagues, in San Francisco, Yangon, Beijing and New York. Her composition, The Real Question, with text by Václav Havel, was performed by Gitameit Voices and Thomas Buckner on numerous occasions in Burma and in the United States.
View an in depth interview with Susan Galbraith