In anticipation of the OCARINA concerts coming to Sydney and Melbourne in November and December, inspired by the Legend of Zelda games, Gamers Classified spoke to world-renowned pianist Nicholas Young, who is one of the driving forces behind this concert series. In this interview, Young discusses collaborations, music apps and the future of classical music. To watch the video of this interview, please click here. To receive a 13%  discount on tickets, visit zeldalive.com and use the code GCOCAR.

Yoshi: Hello everyone this is Yoshi reporting for Gamers Classified and today I’m at the Con Brio Music Studio in Sydney. I’m joined by special guest, pianist Nicolas Young. Nicolas, nice to meet you.

Nicholas Young: Thank you. Nice to meet you and glad to be here.

Yoshi: Thank you for joining us. So we’re at the Con Brio Music School, can you tell us a little bit about this venue and what your relationship to it is?

Nicholas Young: Yeah, sure. Well we’re in the heart of the Con Brio School of Music in Chatswood. They have a very versatile set of studios here primarily for teaching. Con Brio School of Music have very generously been supporting some of my activities and collaborations over the past few years and this will be the principal rehearsal space for the upcoming Ocarina concert.

Yoshi: That’s exciting. So, I hear that the music school has an app coming out. Is that correct?

Nick Young: That’s right. The Con Brio group have been working on a very flash sophisticated new app called YOUBRIO. It’s a bit of a platform for sharing music, for really celebrating music across a wide variety of genres, your classical and jazz but also your anime music and video game music; music that really speaks to a lot of people who are learning instruments who love music and love their anime and their games.

Yoshi: So speaking of video games, I hear that there’s an ocarina concert coming to Chatswood in a few weeks. Do you know anything about that?

Nicholas Young: Oh, I know a lot about that! It’s something that’s been in planning for quite some time now. This upcoming concert is called Ocarina and it’s a celebration of music by Koji Kondo a very famous composer of Nintendo and for the Zelda series. This concert’s celebrating music from the game but also in particular the instrument itself, the ocarina. It’s something that’s come up a lot in pop culture but I’m really taking this opportunity to celebrate this very unique instrument as well and we’re going to be having live performances featuring the instrument. That’s particularly exciting for myself.

The Sydney OCARINA concert will be held at The Concourse in Chatswood. Image credit: Nicholas Young.

Yoshi: So besides the ocarina do you know what other musicians or music genres will be featured at this concert?

Nicholas Young: Ocarina is an extension of a collaboration that I began with The Consouls last year. The Consouls are one of Australia’s leading video game jazz ensembles. It’s quite a unique genre to be working in at the moment. They’ve done amazing things on YouTube. They’ve toured, they’ve just had some pretty breakthrough concerts in Japan, some of the members are in fact based in Japan. And as it happens, a member of the group was an old high school friend of mine and this collaboration was, in a way, reconnecting with some old friends as well and making some new ones.

Among other things, we’re also featuring Ryan Williams, a very prominent recorder player in Melbourne. He has done extensive work with experimental as well as classical, traditional classical repertoire. He’ll be performing the ocarina solos for us as well as integrating with the ensemble with his recorder expertise.

And then the other key members are myself as the solo pianist and finally Ensemble Françaix, a classical ensemble that I’m involved with, a mixed ensemble made up of oboe bassoon and piano. I will also be inviting a couple of our other friends along as guests for this quite unique symphonic collaboration which will be backed also about by Con Brio Strings, a string ensemble to really give it that grand sonorous feel.

Yoshi: Thank you that sounds like quite a line-up. So if people wanted to purchase tickets, how can they do that?

Nicholas Young: The best place is to go to zeldalive.com and there there’ll be links and media links to the Ticketek ticketing page and some information and a few behind the scenes snippets that we will hope to fit into that.

Yoshi: Thank you, sounds interesting. And besides the Ocarina concert do you have any other projects on the horizon?

Nicholas Young: Ocarina will be showing in Sydney on Friday 2nd of November 8pm. We’ve also just lined up our Melbourne show that’s going to be taking place on Saturday the 15th of December 8pm at The Malthouse. It’s quite a central venue. It’s located in South Bank which is just a stone’s throw away from the heart of the city so it’s a really exciting thing for all of us. It’s quite a big collaboration and we’re really hoping for an evening of fun for everyone, really, just everyone to celebrate ocarina, celebrate Zelda. It’s going to be exciting.

Yoshi: It definitely sounds like a fun night out. So besides playing music I noticed that you’ve also published some academic research and you’ve also presented at some conferences. Can you tell us a bit about that and if you have any publications or speaking engagements coming up?

Nicholas Young: Well I’m a classically trained pianist and that’s still my bread and butter so to speak. I perform across Australia doing traditional recitals as well as more contemporary or modern performances. I premiere and commission composers working in especially Melbourne in Sydney but also occasionally from across the country all around the world. I’m really passionate about, you know, bringing the piano forward into the future, breaking new ground by making new discoveries but also celebrating that core literature. And so, that ties in also with a bit of research that I do, some of which has made it into a few journals.

I also run Scintillations Music which is the core agency producing this event. Scintillations Music is all about bringing music to as big an audience as possible. So that’s not only your typical audience that goes to classical concerts or jazz gigs. It’s really about widening how far music gets whether that’s in concert or in print. So I assist as well with a small production element to do with print publishing and website development that sort of thing; it’s all very much a mixed bag of tricks and whatever I can assist in to help musicians emerging or established to keep the artistry moving forward and getting it to as many people as possible.

Yoshi: Thank you. So you mentioned breaking new ground. With the ocarina concert we have a contemporary soundtrack and we’re using classical instruments to bring it to life. Where do you think the classical music industry will develop and go in the future?

Nick Young: That’s a really interesting question. I think it’s a really exciting time. There are some troubles in certain sectors of the classical industry but also a real opportunity there for evolution and I think moving ahead to I guess the modern era of the classical concert. Classical instruments I think some of the most beautiful things and often the problem is that people may not quite understand at first how tough it is to play an instrument and how amazing it is when instrumentalists like The Consouls, for example, when they do such incredible things on acoustic instruments. Now, granted, they have amplified instruments and keyboard synths as well but the technique is still very much, it’s very much manual. It’s all work from the fingers. It’s really dexterity or finger gymnastics. Even in this world of automation I think there’s still such a special place for live performance that comes from training, from many long hours and years of dedication to something quite crazy – this idea of making sound out of an instrument, a block of wood, or something you know that takes time to develop.

I think a lot of symphony orchestras in fact have also caught on to the idea that audiences are open to embracing the orchestra and through things like film school concerts (they’re live film concerts where the soundtracks are played by the orchestra) and also video game concerts. Both of these are really burgeoning fields at the moment and I think this really is the way to attract a new audience. That’s not to say that we won’t still have the classical (your traditional recitals). Those are very important for us too I feel but in order to bring people into this very special ritual and form of entertainment there’s still a lot of work to be done to bring people into concerts.

Nicholas Young rehearsing with The Consouls. Image credit: Nicholas Young

Yoshi: So if people wanted to stay up to date with you and your concert dates where can they find that information?

Nicholas Young: All of my individual work is on nicholasyoungpiano.com, The Consouls are on theconsouls.com. Con Brio, who run YOUBRIO and the Con Brio Examinations can be found on youbrio.com and conbrioexams.com. I think a quick Google and Facebook/Instagram search should direct audiences and listeners and fans to the right pages.

Yoshi: Well Nicholas Young, thank you very much for your time.

Nicholas Young: Thank you, Yoshi.

Don’t forget, if you would like to receive a 13%  discount on tickets, visit zeldalive.com and use the code GCOCAR.