Dorothy Young Riess MD, Concert Organist, Composer

Born to musical parents in Atlanta GA ,1931, Dr. Dorothy started piano with her mother, a professional piano teacher, at age four and won her first competition at seven. She was coached in dynamics and interpretation by her father, Roy Wallace Young, a concert violinist. As a teenager she studied advanced piano with Dean Clarence Burg at Oklahoma City University and performed the Gershwin Piano Concerto with the OCU symphony at age 14. The summer of her 16th year she took organ lessons to become Classen high school organist, and had her own radio show of pop tunes on the Hammond at KTOW, Oklahoma City.

At the University of Oklahoma she became a protégé of the legendary Mildred Andrews and won many competitions including first place in the National Young Artists Competition in Organ Playing in San Francisco, 1952, at age 20. After graduation she studied in France with Marcel Dupré and was guest organist at the American Church, Ave George V, Paris. A chance encounter led to a position as organist and choirmaster at Church of the Holy Spirit, Nice, France, and later, at St Paul's Within the Walls, Rome, Italy where she served for two years.

She studied composition with her father, Harrison Kerr and Spencer Norton at OU, and Mel Powell at Yale.

Awarded a full scholarship to Yale University, she performed her Masters recital in Woolsey Hall, including the difficult and seldom heard "Variations on a Recitative" by Schoenberg. The death of her beloved father from complications of Diabetes changed her life resulting in a decision to become a Doctor. After pre-med studies at Columbia University, New York, she was admitted to The University of Oklahoma School of Medicine at age 33, and awarded a Doctor of Medicine degree in 1969. Four years of post-grad study qualified her to practice Internal Medicine which she continued in Pasadena CA until retirement in 2000.

After relocating to Las Vegas she resumed organ playing in 2004, and joined the American Guild of Organists, Southern Nevada and Los Angeles Chapters. She performed her 75th birthday concert at The University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2006, her 80th at UNLV in 2011, and her 85th in 2016, also at UNLV. She was featured artist for American Guild of Organists Region IX Convention in San Francisco, July 2011, performing at First Congregational Church, Berkeley, the same venue as her winner's recital in 1952, and Bakersfield, June 2013, at Olive Drive Church. She maintains an active concert schedule to share the music she loves with her friends.

She is the widow of Dr. Louis C. Riess, B/G USAF Ret., (1925-2015), has two stepsons, two grandchildren and one great grandson. Besides music, she enjoys photography, languages, world travel and good friends.


April 2018