Mason Bates

Recently named the second most-performed living composer, Mason Bates currently serves as the first composer-in-residence of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. His music fuses innovative orchestral writing, imaginative narrative forms, the harmonies of jazz and the rhythms of techno, and it has been the first symphonic music to receive widespread acceptance for its unique integration of electronic sounds. Leading conductors such as Riccardo Muti, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Leonard Slatkin have championed his diverse catalogue. 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.” Bates’ activities as a DJ have highly informed not only his compositional approach, but his distinctive curating projects. As part of his multi-year residency, he will work with the Kennedy Center’s broad range of artistic constituents, from performances with the National Symphony to appearances with Jason Moran on Kennedy Center Jazz, often integrating electronica artists into the Center’s unique spaces. He is launching a new music series, KC Jukebox, that will feature the immersive production and eclectic programming for which his curating projects have become known. As part of the San Francisco Symphony’s Beethoven & Bates Festival, three of his largest works — Alternative Energy, Liquid Interface, and The B-Sides — will be released later this season. A forthcoming CD by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project will complement this disc with some of his most-performed works, from Mothership to Rusty Air in Carolina. Currently he is composing an opera on the topic of Steve Jobs to be premiered at Santa Fe Opera in 2017. 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  and www.mercurysoul.org. (Sept 2015)