The short version
Canadian soprano Hillary Jean Young is happiest when they are making music amongst friends. Hillary’s eclectic creative practice involves a diverse range of projects, including both standard repertoire and new opera, contemporary chamber music, devised dance theatre work, experimental pop music, and more. Last year, Hillary and pianist Kyle Adam Blair’s performance of Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine was described as “creating something remarkable: an intertwined sensitivity that resulted in remarkable music-making” (UT San Diego). With their queercore performance art duo, “masc4masc”, Hillary has curated, hosted, and performed in venues throughout San Diego (namely the Che Cafe, Bread and Salt, and Weird Hues) in addition to touring their multi-media performance, Dawson’sCreamo, around western Canada. Hillary has performed with numerous ensembles and orchestras, such as UCSD’s Palimpsest, kallisti chamber opera, red fish blue fish, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and the La Jolla Symphony Orchestra. Hillary’s operatic experience includes roles such as the title role in Janáček’s Příhody lišky Bystroušky, La Modista in Rota’s Il cappello di paglia di Firenze, and Lisha in the premiere of Steve Lewis’ Noon at Dusk. In addition, their interpretation of Jenny in Weill’s The Threepenny Opera was hailed as “showing both the acidity and the humanity at the core of this work” (UT San Diego). From the studio of Nancy Hermiston, Hillary earned their Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance (2012) and Master of Music in Opera (2014) from the University of British Columbia. Most recently, Hillary earned their Doctor of Musical Arts in Contemporary Music Performance from the University of California, San Diego (2019), where they studied with Susan Narucki.
The long version
Dr. Hillary Jean Young (they/them) isn’t just an opera singer. Hillary was born in Grand Forks, British Columbia, where they were homeschooled, giving them the opportunity to fully embrace their budding interest in music. Hillary started the Camosun College diploma in Voice at the Victoria Conservatory of Music when they were sixteen. At the Victoria Conservatory, Hillary was blessed with the confident guidance of Canadian soprano Joanne Hounsell. With Joanne's encouragement, Hillary auditioned for the University of British Columbia Voice Performance program where they were accepted with a scholarship. At UBC, Hillary was given world-class training as a singer and a performer, which they owe all to the incomparable Nancy Hermiston. During their BMus in Voice and their MMus in Opera, Hillary was given the opportunity to perform a variety of operatic roles and chamber music, nurturing their love for 20th and 21st century music. Highlights include performing the title role in Janáček’s Příhody lišky Bystroušky in Vancouver and the Czech Republic, winning the prestigious Roberto and Mary Wood Scholarship, winning the UBC Concerto Competition and performing Berg's Sieben frühe Lieder with the UBC Symphony Orchestra, studying and performing Kurtág's Attila József Fragments, and participating in the renowned Vancouver International Song Institute. Hillary decided to chase their contemporary music dreams all the way to Southern California, where they pursued their Doctor of Musical Arts in Contemporary Music Performance at the University of California, San Diego, under the tutelage of Susan Narucki.
In their time at UCSD, Hillary has been exploring their voice in new ways, as well as experimenting more with mixing genres, interdisciplinarity, and curation. Hillary has curated, hosted, and performed in two multidisciplinary events at the legendary Che Cafe: "Hillary(Jean Young)2016" and Queer time | an art party. In these events, Hillary performed works by composers such as Carolyn Chen, Gabriel Kahane, and Laurie Anderson, and featured fellow artists, collaborators, and friends Kyle Adam Blair, Migueltzinta C. Solis, Asa Mendelsohn, Grace Mae Huddleston, Justin Murphy-Mancini, Erin Tracy, Madison Greenstone, and Lauren Jones, and others. Hillary has also collaborated extensively with performer, scholar, and dear friend Sadie Hochman: together, they have crafted queercore performance art projects !.!vOdKaGuMmYbEaRlOlLiPoP!.! and masc4masc and performed in and hosted a variety of events around San Diego. As masc4masc, they have hosted and performed at venues such as the Che Cafe, Bread and Salt, and Weird Hues, and toured their multimedia piece, Dawson’sCreamo, through western Canada.
Hillary strives to perform seldom-heard works by overlooked 20th century women composers; they have proudly programmed works by Vítězslava Kaprálová, Lili Boulanger, and most recently, Claire Delbos, among others. Hillary is also interested in adding more queer vocal works to the contemporary music canon; this past year, they co-created a song cycle (titled Pinterest Sex) with Justin Murphy-Mancini and Migueltzinta C. Solis that centers queer experience. Hillary’s other recent career highlights include participating in the UCSD/Stanford experimental opera project "The Voice Machine", performing the role of Lisha in the premier of Steve Lewis' opera Noon at Dusk, performing Luciano Berio's Sinfonia with the La Jolla Symphony Orchestra, performing Steve Reich's Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ in San Diego Symphony's "It's About Time" festival, and participating in the devised interdisciplinary dance performance, Though it May Shift, directed by Erin Tracy. Most notably, in May 2017, Hillary performed Francis Poulenc's La Voix Humaine with long time collaborator Kyle Adam Blair and UCSD's Kallisti ensemble, and the San Diego U-T seemed to like it.
Hillary completed their qualifying examinations for their DMA in September 2017. In Fall 2018, they performed their final DMA recital and appeared in the premiere of Lei Liang's opera Inheritance. In April 2019, Hillary successfully defended their dissertation, titled “‘She Uses They/Them Pronouns’: Finding a Non-Binary Voice in a Gendered World”.