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Nothing ‘lazy’ about this Millennial

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Michael Apichella
Michael Apichella

There’s nothing as fulfilling as transforming a blank canvas into an object of beauty. So says multitalented 22-year-old musician John Young, of Whepstead.

He’s certainly created plenty of beauty through the many film scores, trailers, theatrical productions and independent arrangements he’s composed.

I knew Young during his National Children’s Orchestra years, but we lost touch after he left for Oxford University to study music. Recently he and his parents, Simon and Julia, and younger brothers George and Freddy, joined me for lunch.

His parents are his greatest backers. Both talented musicians, they nurtured his early ability, as did the Risby, Westley and Bury St Edmunds schools, offering John many challenging musical opportunities. “Though the curriculum was, of course, very important, the most helpful part of my school musical education was actually the extra-curricular,” John recalls.

Initially he resented the hours of practice that goes into mastering musical instruments, but today John’s grateful to all who helped him, including Fran Hart, a member of the Bury St Edmunds All Through Trust – Westley Campus, and Rebekah Green, Director of Music at County Upper School. He acknowledges others. “Richard Meyrick who was my piano teacher as part of the Pianoman Scholarship scheme for eight years, and Rafael Todes, my violin teacher at the Junior Royal Academy, as well as various people at Oxford.”

John agrees Millennials have bad reputations, making them seem lazy and workshy. “It’s true that unemployment among young people is higher than in previous generations and that we tend to live with our parents for longer and go straight into a full-time job less often. But I don’t buy into the idea that generations can be homogenised by certain traits – people are people, and there’s going to be a huge diversity of attitudes wherever you look in history.”

While he’s hardly what I’d call ‘religious’ – indeed, a recent survey conducted by Penguin Books shows that most UK Millennials are atheists – I sensed John’s deeply spiritual nature. Not surprisingly, his faith grows out of his passion for music. “All of my favourite music points towards something greater than me. It’s the strongest signifier of God’s existence.

“Why should our ears be able to separate layers of spectral content and frequencies in a wave form into this thing we call music with no effort? But above all, why does it have such a power to move our emotions? For me, it’s because music is from God – a gift – and is one of the ways he speaks.”

When not in the studio, John performs with The Wandering Wires. “I’m their keyboard-synthesiser player and play violin sometimes when recording.” Their album, Homecoming, a sophisticated portfolio of experimental yet accessible jazz-influenced original compositions was released this month on Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes and TIDAL. “There’s also old-school CDs,” he adds, possibly hoping to reach listeners of my generation!

As an artist, he admits he falls into the ‘idealised career’ category among his peer group. “But anyone who decides to go into the arts has some kind of dream,” he says.

And if John should be among the very few who make it big as musicians, he hopes to help other young artists. “My parents have been really supportive of me, and my dad’s advice on navigating the highly competitive and vague nature of the music industry has been especially helpful.

“I’d want to give back to my family and friends, keeping them informed of any relevant events. If we really are talking BIG, then I’d like to be generous financially to anyone that needed help.”

Millennials self-centred? Buffalo chips.

Check out John’s music on https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/homecoming/1353126592 or www.johnyoungcomposer.com/demo-reel