Born in 1956 in Beirut, Lebanon, Gregory Youtz received his B.M. in composition from the University of Washington in 1980 and his D.M.A. in composition from the University of Michigan in 1987. His principal teachers have included Leslie Bassett, William Bergsma, William Bolcom and William Albright.
He was awarded a Charles Ives Award in 1984 from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and has received annual awards from ASCAP since 1990. His Scherzo for a Bitter Moon for band won the 1984 National Bandmasters Association contest and in 1990 his Fire Works for wind ensemble won the American Bandmasters Association Ostwald Award. A choral work If We Sell You Our Land based on the famous speech by Chief Seattle was the subject of a story on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition show in 1987 and his subsequent opera Songs from the Cedar House based on the history and legends of Indian and White cultural interaction in the Pacific Northwest premiered in February of 1991 at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. His other compositions include works for orchestra, band, choir, voice and chamber ensembles, and a one-act opera. His wind ensemble music in particular is performed regularly throughout North America, Europe and Japan. In 2003, Youtz was honored with the “Composer of the Year” award from the Washington State Music Teacher’s Association.
Beyond his lifelong interest in local Native American cultures, Youtz has done research in China and Trinidad and Tobago and enjoys drawing conceptual and musical ideas from those rich traditions as well. A native Northwesterner, he presently teaches composition, theory, history and courses in world music. He frequently teaches study abroad courses and is the Director of PLU’s China Gateway Study Abroad Program at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China.