Born: January 23, 1977
Country: U.S.A. Richmond, VA.
Studies: University of California, Berkeley; Columbia University; Juilliard School
Recently appointed the first composer-in-residence of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and named the second most-performed living composer, Mason Bates writes music that fuses innovative orchestral writing, imaginative narrative forms, the harmonies of jazz and the rhythms of techno. His symphonic music has been the first to receive widespread acceptance for its expanded palette of electronic sounds, and it is championed by leading conductors such as Riccardo Muti, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Leonard Slatkin. Bates’ activities as a DJ in San Francisco and Chicago have highly informed not only his compositional approach, but his distinctive curating projects. He has become a visible advocate for bringing new music to new spaces, whether through institutional partnerships such as his residency with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, or through his club/classical project Mercury Soul, which has transformed spaces ranging from commercial clubs to Frank Gehry-designed concert halls into exciting, hybrid musical events drawing over a thousand people. In awarding Bates the Heinz Medal, Teresa Heinz remarked that “his music has moved the orchestra into the digital age and dissolved the boundaries of classical music.”
As part of the San Francisco Symphony’s recent Beethoven & Bates Festival, three of his largest works — Alternative Energy, Liquid Interface, and The B-Sides — were recorded for an upcoming CD focusing on his music. Another major work, his Violin Concerto, was recorded by Leonard Slatkin, the London Symphony, and extraordinary violinist Anne Akiko Meyers. His symphonic music’s dramatic realization of narrative forms has recently attracted the attention of great artists outside classical music, such as famed director Gus Van Sant, whose upcoming film Sea of Trees starring Matthew McConaughey features a symphonic score by Bates. His diverse catalogue includes many purely acoustic works, in addition to chamber and vocal music.
Continuing performances of works such as Mothership, which premiered at the Sydney Opera House by the YouTube Symphony to an online audience of 1.8 million, have demonstrated that electronic sounds can be a welcome addition to the orchestral palette with minimal logistics. While Bates often performs the electronica onstage with orchestras, dozens of repeat performances of his symphonic music happen without him. For more info, go to www.masonbates.com and www.mercurysoul.org.
Works for Percussion