Composer of the Grammy-winning opera The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, Mason Bates serves as the first composer-in-residence of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. His symphonic music is the first to receive widespread acceptance for its unique integration of electronic sounds, and he was named the most-performed composer of his generation in a recent survey of American music. He has also composed for films, including Gus Van Sant’s The Sea of Trees starring Matthew McConaughey and Naomi Watts.
The 2019-20 season features the premiere of Philharmonia Fantastique: The Making of the Orchestra, for animated film and live orchestra, by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony. A collaboration with Gary Rydstrom of Lucasfilm and Jim Capobianco of Aerial Contrivance, the work explores the connection between creativity and technology with the help of a magical Sprite, who flies through instruments as they are played. Additional commissioners include the National, Pittsburgh, and Dallas Symphonies, as well as Vulcan Productions, which will release the film in theaters and on television.
Also this season, San Francisco Opera presents The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, which during its premiere was hailed as one of the best-selling productions in the history of Santa Fe Opera. This season also features ballets on Bates’ music by the Houston Ballet and Joffrey Ballet.
Performances of his symphonic music can be heard internationally this season when the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra tours Resurrexit from Hamburg to Vienna. The National Symphony Orchestra offers several Bates works at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, which continues to showcase his innovative work as a curator. Highly informed by his work as a DJ, his curatorial approach integrates adventurous music, ambient information, and social platforms in a fluid and immersive way. Featured events include a weeklong installation for the opening of the Center’s new REACH campus and a new season of his hit series KC Jukebox.
Working in clubs under the name DJ Masonic, Bates has developed Mercury Soul, a show combining DJing and classical music, to packed crowds with clubs and orchestras around the country. This season Mercury Soul presents ‘godfather of techno’ Juan Atkins at SF’s Public Works in addition to events at various other venues. Bates serves on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Photo by Todd Rosenberg