Patricia Anna Young

1951 -

Patricia Young, violinist and singer, has actively participated in music groups for over fifty years. Her professional career has been in the office environment, serving as a secretary in the Theological Seminary at Andrews University and administrative assistant at the Lake Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Berrien Springs, Michigan.

Patricia was born in St. Helena, California, and spent her childhood in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada and in Angwin, California. She and her brother, Richard, children of Alex W. and Margaret Moline (Yakovenko) Young, were surrounded by music from their earliest years, their father being an amateur singer and well-known song leader, and their mother a classically trained pianist and choir director at two colleges.

Beginning at ages nine and five, when their parents moved to Angwin, California, Patricia and Richard started lessons on violin, studying with Ivylyn Traver, legendary string teacher associated with Pacific Union College and its related grade school and academy. While Richard was very active for years as a violinist and percussionist, and still plays his violin on occasion, Patricia has performed as an ensemble violinist throughout her life, pursuing music as an important and meaningful avocation.

She recently wrote about her early childhood and experience in studying with Traver and playing in her string ensembles:

I knew the sound of church and classical music from early childhood. My parents’ musical involvement was mostly outside the home, but I would occasionally sit in on Mother’s choir rehearsals, and always listen with keen interest to their church and secular performances. I also had free reign to listen to Mother’s collection of classical records.

There were two classical melodies of which I took ownership as a toddler and pre-schooler. The beautiful melody introduced by the strings in the 4th movement of Brahms Symphony #1 was the theme song on a daily radio news broadcast and to my toddler’s musical ear and mind, I adopted it, happily referring to it as "Patsy’s song!" I also claimed as my own, Dvorak’s New World Symphony #9 second movement's "Going Home" theme, the idea of which always sent my young imagination into a contemplative state. Other than Mother instilling in me the love of Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses and reciting many of those poems, I did not "do" music in my early childhood.

I was nine when I started violin lessons at Pacific Union College with Ivylyn Traver. It was never Mother’s intent to have us study violin, but soon after our arrival at PUC, my parents attended a Canadian reunion where an ensemble of young string players provided the evening’s entertainment. Mother heard in these students a particular level of playing indicative of a high quality of teaching, and she signed us up for lessons with Miss Traver the following Monday. Ivylyn Traver had an enthusiasm in her teaching that was contagious, and her students played with an open freedom of expression and feeling. Her string ensembles were known throughout California, and at a young age we learned the discipline of memorization, intonation, and the art of ensemble playing which I later came to realize was an invaluable asset in my subsequent years of orchestra and chamber music playing.

Patricia later took piano lessons from Elaine Taylor and sang in the choirs at PUC Prep (academy) under Rosalyn Morgan Upshaw and Norman Skeels. She joined the PUC orchestra under the leadership of George Wargo her senior year in academy and continued through her first two years at college. She also sang in the choir under Carolyn Rhodes Bisel. She later described what it was like to sing under Bisel:

Carolyn Rhodes Bisel's expressive eyes were an integral part of her conducting style. With her happy smile and jubilant toss of her head, even the deaf could "hear" us sing! And of course we loved any opportunity that required her to demonstrate a particular sound or passage. For those who were privileged to hear her sing, her legendary voice remains an unforgettable memory.

At the end of two years at PUC, Patricia attended Newbold College in England, where she studied piano under Elizabeth Vine during the 1972-1973 school year and sang in Vine's twelve-member choir, Collegium Musicum, an experience she particularly enjoyed.

Young returned to PUC the following school year, where she completed an A.S. degree in medical secretarial in 1974. She then transferred to Andrews University in the fall of 1974, intending to stay for only one year. She signed up for violin lessons with LeRoy Peterson, however, and found that experience and other music activities to be so gratifying she stayed and then graduated from AU in 1976 with a B.S. in office administration. She recently talked about her study with Peterson:

LeRoy did not try to change my playing style to fit his own, but rather nurtured my tone and playing to a richer level. He also broadened my listening ear as I learned to discern the different sounds and tonal qualities of his own and of others’ violins and bows. He would sometimes play them after rehearsals in the Pioneer Memorial Church or concert hall, and ask us to identify which instrument he was playing.

LeRoy is known for his genuine interest in his students, treating everyone with kindness. Anyone who knows him sees in him a reserved enthusiasm for life and an appreciation of everything beautiful - whether demonstrated in his nature photography, his speaking voice, his interest in health and body building, his fascination with the cultures of the world, or his violin playing. As with Carolyn Rhodes Bisel's singing and conducting, LeRoy’s violin artistry in the Adventist music world is legendary. He does not ‘play’ his violin; he ‘speaks’ to his listeners with a sound unmatched in richness and emotion. And yet in his success, he is a humble master musician.

Young has now played continuously with the AU symphony orchestra for 37 years and is its longest-standing member. In that time she has played under Charles Davis, Peterson, Zvonimr Hacko, several others in a 1995-1999 transitional era, and, most recently, under Morihiko Nakahara, and Claudio Gonzalez, conductor since 2004. She has also played in orchestral/choral settings under choral conductors Franklin Lusk, Harold Lickey, James Bingham, and Stephen Zork.

She has also been active as a member of other orchestras in the region and those formed for special occasions. One of the latter experiences was traveling as part of a chorus and small orchestra, The New Cantata Singers and Players, under the direction of Francisco de Araujo on a 6,000-mile national tour in 1977. In 1992 she was a participant along with AU faculty members in the Newbold Summer Music Festival in England, conducted by Zvonimir Hacko.

Young has been active as a chamber music musician from her earliest years. She worked with Peterson as a member of the AU Chamber Players from 1976 to 1982; played with Hans Jorgen and Rae Constantine Holman and LeRoy Peterson in Capella da Camera in 1976; and since 1997 has served as a substitute in the Renaissance String Quartet in nearby St. Joseph, Michigan.

Throughout her career as a member in many ensembles, she has played in numerous noted venues. A partial listing of these includes the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles; Grace Cathedral, San Francisco; Town Hall, New York; Ely Cathedral, England; St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London; Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford; Usher Hall, Edinburgh; and the Bath Abbey, England.

Young has kept meticulous records, more recently placed in a cross-referenced computerized log, of works that she has played in ensembles since 1974. The result is a record in performances that would rival that of someone who had pursued a career in music teaching with its related performance commitments. She has performed the works of over 190 composers, many of them numerous times, two examples being Handel's Messiah, complete or in part, 34 times, and the Dvorak New World Symphony, with that favorite childhood melody in the second movement, six times. The complete computerized log with its cross-referencing is presently fifty pages in length.

Young recently observed:

My A.S. degree from PUC and B.S. in office administration with a religion minor from Andrews University gave me the skills for a rewarding career in the offices of the Theological Seminary and the Lake Union Conference. Although music was not my career choice, I have been fortunate in the many opportunities and experiences that have broadened my life because of it.


Source: Information provided by Patricia Young, September 2011.