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Composer Mason Bates

Sat 8.3 | Alternative Energy

MASON BATES (b. 1977)

Recently awarded the Heinz Medal in the Humanities, Mason Bates writes music that fuses innovative orchestral writing, imaginative narrative forms, the harmonies of jazz and the rhythms of techno.  Frequently performed by orchestras large and small, 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. 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, or through his classical/DJ 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.

Carnegie Hall’s 2012-13 season opened with Riccardo Muti leading the Chicago Symphony in Alternative Energy, an ‘energy symphony’ that spans four movements and hundreds of years.  Several works have been commissioned and premiered by the San Francisco Symphony, which next season will record his three largest works as part of its Beethoven & Bates Festival. A new violin concerto for Anne Akiko Meyers premiered this season at the Pittsburgh Symphony, where he served as Composer of the Year.  In awarding Bates the Heinz Medal this season, Teresa Heinz remarked that “his music has moved the orchestra into the digital age and dissolved the boundaries of classical music.”

Numerous performances of his music occurred across the country this season, from Houston Ballet’s new ballet based on The B-Sides to the Phoenix Symphony performing two works, including a new song cycle. Marin Alsop has conducted several Bates works at the acclaimed Cabrillo Festival, which this summer presents Alternative Energy under the baton of Carolyn Kuan on Saturday, August 2nd. While Bates often performs the electronica onstage with orchestras, dozens of repeat performances of his symphonic music happen without him. Many purely acoustic works complement his diverse catalogue, such as Sirens, an a cappella work touring with the superstar chorus Chanticleer.


Photo by: Ryan Schude