“Mason Bates’s musical language lies at the intersection of three major streams of contemporary music—jazz and its offshoots, classical music with all its harmonic and textural experimentation, and electronica. …. It exudes a sense of Americana for the 21st century (much as Dvorak’s music did in the 19th century, and Copland’s in the 20th).”
The Washington Post
“The opera, which is having its world premiere at the Santa Fe Opera in a theatrically arresting production…draws you in at every opportunity…At the end of the world premiere of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, the audience roared its approval as if it had witnessed a blockbuster musical.”
“[Alternative Energy is] a formidable and inventive new work…Bates’ most ambitious and epically scaled work to date, and it shows his mastery of the orchestral landscape like nothing before it.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Mason Bates’ genre-defying works demonstrate considerable artistry.”
Composer of the Grammy-winning opera The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, Mason Bates is imaginatively transforming the way classical music is created and experienced as a composer, DJ, and curator.During his term as the first composer-in-residence at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, he presented a diverse array of artists on his KC Jukebox using immersive production and stagecraft. Championed by legendary conductors from Riccardo Muti to Michael Tilson Thomas, 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.Bates has also composed for films, including Gus Van Sant’s The Sea of Trees starring Matthew McConaughey and Naomi Watts.
Next season will see 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 in theaters and streaming services.
Also in the coming season is a new piano concerto for Daniil Trifonov for the San Francisco Symphony and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and a concert opener The Rhapsody of Steve Jobs. Based on his hit opera, which was hailed as one of the best-selling productions in the history of Santa Fe Opera, the work will be premiered by the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The opera itself receives its second production by opera houses in Atlanta, Austin, and Kansas City next season, and he is currently at work on The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay for the Metropolitan Opera with librettist Gene Scheer.
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. Highlights of his Kennedy Center residency included a weeklong installation for the opening of the Center’s new REACH campus and his hit series KC Jukebox, all of which are discussed in his miniseries on curating at kennedy-center.org/masonbates.
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. The organization has broadened its scope to include not only classical club shows, but full-service digital content production. The miniseries Mercury Soul: Cathedral, a meditative mix of classical music and electronica shot at Saint Joseph’s Society for the Arts, received almost three hundred thousand views (more info at MercurySoul.com), and its upcoming series will be created in partnership with the De Young Museum. A diverse artist exploring the ways classical music integrates into contemporary cultures, he serves on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.