When DJ/composer Mason Bates was named to 7x7's 2012 Hot 30, he was having a big year: The composer-in-residence at the San Francisco Symphony had just premiered his electronic orchestral work Mass Transmission at Davies Hall, and another of his works, Alternative Energy, was opening the season at Carnegie Hall. Now, Bates is once again making headlines in the music world with a new album dropping March 11.
Mason Bates: Works for Orchestra is a partnership between the T-shirted DJ and his more formal longtime collaborator, SF Symphony music director Michael Tilson Thomas. Due for release from the orchestra’s Grammy Award–winning label San Francisco Symphony Media, the recording will include Bates' three largest electro-acoustic orchestral works to date: B-Sides (2009), Liquid Interface (2007), and Alternative Energy (2011).
(Mason Bates, Courtesy of View From Here)
If you aren't familair with Bates' insanely innovative work, just try to imagine the collision of classical music with the rhythms of the digital age—like an electronic dance party on the floor at Davies Hall, or MTT behind the turntables of a Molly-fueled rave. There are sounds of techno, drum ‘n’ bass, and field recordings—one moment you'll be exploring the glaciers of Antarctica, then you'll be floating in space the next. This dude is breaking boundaries, people.
(Michael Tilson Thomas and Mason Bates, Courtesy of Red Carpet SF)
"Mason has an enormous imagination for extending and creating another vocabulary of sound,” says Tilson Thomas, who's commissioned multiple works from Bates, including both The B-Sides and Mass Transmission. “It complements what he's doing with his notes and bass lines and melodies. He blends these two aspects together, and it's volatile and engaging."
Last year, Bates joined the Kennedy Center as composer-in-residence for the 2015-16 season, and he is currently writing his first opera—inspired by the life of Steve Jobs—commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera. In the meantime, look for Bates to debut another SF Symphony commission, Auditorium, at Davies Symphony Hall this April.
“During my years in the Bay Area, it has been quite a trip to migrate from a San Francisco Symphony audience member to contributing composer,” says Bates. ”The San Francisco Symphony continues to be my window into the limitless possibilities of an orchestra.”