Recently named the most-performed composer of his generation, 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 more than a thousand people. In awarding Bates the Heinz Medal, Teresa Heinz Kerry 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 electronic artists into the Center’s unique spaces. He is launching a new-music series, KC Jukebox, that will feature the eclectic programming, immersive production, and projected information for which his curating projects have become known.
This season marked the important release of two CDs of his symphonic music. As part of the San Francisco Symphony’s Beethoven & Bates Festival, three of his largest works –Alternative Energy, Liquid Interface, and The B-Sides – were released on SFS Media, complemented by a CD from the Boston Modern Orchestra Project offering 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.
Bates returns to the Cabrillo Festival for the performance of The B-Sides for orchestra and electronica, during Courage & Commitment on Friday, August 12.