The recipient of both an American Academy in Berlin Fellowship and a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, MASON BATES moves fluidly between the worlds of classical concert music and “underground” electronica, and often combines the two. Chosen as Composer-in-Residence by Young Concert Artists in 2000, his portfolio includes a brilliant range of orchestral, chamber, theatrical, and electronic works.
Mr. Bates’s 2009-10 season brings performances of Liquid Interface with conductor Leonard Slatkin and the Pittsburgh Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Music From Underground Spaces with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting. White Lies for Lomax by Mason Bates for solo piano was chosen by the Van Cliburn American Composers Invitational, and will be recorded by Gold Medalist Haochen Zhang on his new CD on Harmonia Mundi. He has been commissioned by the Ringling Arts Festival to write a Trio for horn, violin and piano.
Last season saw many exciting premieres, including The B-Sides, which was premiered by the San Francisco Symphony in May 2009, under Michael Tilson Thomas, and a movement from the new work was performed by the YouTube Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in April. In March 2009, Chanticleer gave the premiere of Sirens, and an orchestral version of White Lies for Lomax was premiered by the California Symphony, where Mr. Bates was in the second of three seasons as Young American Composer-in-Residence and where his Music from Underground Spaces was premiered in May 2008. In May 2007, he received an Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an award that “honors outstanding artistic achievement and acknowledges the composer who has arrived at his or her own voice.” Liquid Interface, was commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra and received its world premiere, conducted by Leonard Slatkin, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in February 2007 and its New York premiere at Carnegie Hall in February 2008. Mr. Bates recently participated in a Music Alive Residency with the Mobile Symphony, which performed his Ode in March 2006 and Overture to California Fictions in November 2006.
Mr. Bates’ other successes include the premieres of Digital Loom, an electro-acoustic work commissioned by The Juilliard School to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2006 and Rusty Air in Carolina for electronics, commissioned by the Winston-Salem (NC) Symphony in 2006. His work Omnivorous Furniture for sinfonietta and electronica was premiered on the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella Series at Disney Hall in 2004 and has received subsequent performances by the American Composers Orchestra in New York and the Oakland East Bay Symphony. From Amber Frozen for String Quartet, commissioned by the Naumburg Foundation for the Biava Quartet was premiered in 2004 at Alice Tully Hall.
Mr. Bates’ music has also been performed by orchestras including the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, the Evansville Philharmonic, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, the Aspen Festival Orchestra, and at the Spoleto USA Festival. His chamber works have been performed by the Claremont Trio, Ensemble X, Austrian bass Rupert Bergmann, Berlin’s Scharoun Ensemble, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. As a performer, Mr. Bates has performed his concerto for synthesizer, Sounds for His Animation, commissioned by the New Juilliard Ensemble, with the Atlanta and Phoenix Symphonies.
His interest in writing for unconventional forces has led him to develop works for the theater as well as the concert hall. His interest in theater has been influenced by playwriting studies under Kenneth Koch, Arnold Weinstein and Mark Adamo. Song cycles, theatrical works, and a music-drama for one actor and five musicians called Trout Fishing in America, which was produced at Lincoln Center’s Clark Theater in 1997. Also known as the underground hip-hop DJ “Masonic,” Mr. Bates performs at clubs such as 111 Minna, Skylark, Cloud 9 and for Plado Media in San Francisco, Scarabocchio and Metaverso in Rome’s Testaccio district, and Zu Mir Oder Zu Dir and Kinzo in Berlin.
Raised in Richmond, Virginia where he studied piano with Hope Armstrong Erb and composition with Dika Newlin, Mason Bates enrolled in the Columbia University-Juilliard School program in New York City. Earning Bachelor’s degrees in music composition and English literature, he worked with John Corigliano, David Del Tredici, and Samuel Adler. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree from the University of California, Berkeley with Edmund Campion. Mr. Bates is a Guggenheim Fellow. His other awards include a Charles Ives scholarship and fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Jacob Druckman Memorial Prize from Aspen Music Festival, ASCAP and BMI awards, and a Fellowship from the Tanglewood Music Center.