Artist-in-residence Young passes at age 74

By Melissa Luby, news Editor

Noted organist, choral arranger, and Olivet artist-in-residence Ovid Young died on Sunday, Aug. 24 at the age of 74.

Dr. Young was an artist-in-residence at Olivet from 2007 until the time of his death. His responsibilities included arranging the annual baccalaureate hymn, playing the organ in chapel and acting as an ambassador-at-large for the University.

“The University, and our community at large, has lost a great man,” said Dr. John Bowling, University president, in a press release on the Olivet website. “Although he will be greatly missed, his legacy will live on, and his music will be performed for generations to come.”

Dr. Young had been involved in the Olivet music department since his student years in the late 1950s. He was an active member of Orpheus choir, serving as both the accompanist and president.

Dr. Young graduated from Olivet in 1962 and was hired as a professor of piano shortly thereafter. During his time as a professor, Dr. Young met Stephen Nielson, who was also a professor of piano at the time. Nielson and Dr. Young began performing as a duo in 1971. Their 40-year career has yielded over 4,000 performances worldwide.

In total, Dr. Young appeared in nearly 7,000 concert performances, both as a soloist and in collaboration with Nielson. He played some of the most famous organs in America and Europe and also had the distinction of being the first member of the music faculty to play the Ruffatti organ in Centennial Chapel. Additionally, he served as the conductor of the Kankakee Valley Symphony Orchestra from 1974-1984.

Dr. Young is best known, however, for his work as a composer and arranger. Young’s many compositions include film scores, opera compositions, hymn settings for duo piano, and choral arrangements.

Although most students will remember Dr. Young as the man who played the organ, many will remember him as a teacher and a friend.

Ryan Drenth, a 2014 math education graduate, recalls taking organ lessons from Dr. Young. “I was just thrilled to have such a talented professor,” he said. “He was not only my professor, but also a mentor and a friend. He was one of my ‘balcony people’; someone who was always supportive and cheering me on.”

Bethany Munroe, a junior music education major whose late grandmother was a close personal friend of Dr. Young’s, shared Drenth’s sentiments. “It was such an honor and privilege to have known and worked with him,” she said.

“Heaven has gained some incredible church musicians this year to add to the beautiful heavenly choirs.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *