The Washington Post
“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 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.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“[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.”
“Mason Bates’ genre-defying works demonstrate considerable artistry.”
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. Championed by legendary conductors such as Riccardo Muti, Michael Tilson Thomas, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, 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 in theaters and on television by Vulcan Productions, a legacy of Paul Allen of Microsoft.
Also this season, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs comes to the heart of the tech universe with performances at San Francisco Opera in June/July 2020. Hailed as one of the best-selling productions in the history of Santa Fe Opera, it was awarded the 2019 Grammy for Best Opera Recording. Stage performances of other works can be found at the Houston Ballet, which reprises a work by Aszure Barton based on Bates’ music, as well as a ballet by Nicholas Blanc for Joffrey Ballet at Cal Performances.
Performances of new and popular symphonic works continue nationally and internationally. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under Manfred Honneck tours Resurrexit, which animates a biblical narrative with propulsion and theatricality, from Hamburg to Vienna. With the Colorado Symphony, maestro Brett Mitchell records the recent oratorio Children of Adam, and the San Diego Symphony offers Bates’ ‘energy symphony’ Alternative Energy. Hit works such as Mothership continue to introduce widespread audiences to his unique soundworld of orchestra and electronica.
The National Symphony Orchestra performs several Bates works at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, opening its season with Warehouse Medicine from The B-Sides and continuing later with Resurrexit. As Bates’ artistic home during his five-year residency, the Kennedy Center 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. The opening of the Center’s new REACH campus features a week-long installation in the Skylight Pavilion, where Bates is creating a series of immersive environments responding to a variety of musical styles, from Renaissance choral music to Detroit techno. His KC Jukebox, which recently featured the composers of the Netflix hit Stranger Things alongside a tribute to composer Johann Johannsson, continues in its fifth year with appearances by DJ Juan Atkins, Get Out composer Michael Abels, and many others.
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. A diverse artist exploring the ways classical music integrates into contemporary cultures, he serves on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, which offers both traditional compositional training and instruction in music technology.