Mason Bates discusses his path to the PSO 2012-2013 Composer of the Year
The music of Mason Bates fuses innovative orchestral writing, imaginative narrative forms, the harmonies of jazz and the rhythms of techno. Frequently performed by orchestras large and small, his symphonic music has been the first to receive widespread acceptance for its expanded palette of electronic sounds, and it is championed by leading conductors such as Riccardo Muti, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Leonard Slatkin. He has become a visible advocate for bringing new music to new spaces, whether through institutional partnerships such as his residency with the Chicago Symphony, or through his classical/DJ project Mercury Soul, which has transformed spaces ranging from commercial clubs to Frank Gehry-designed concert halls into exciting, hybrid musical events drawing over a thousand people.
Carnegie Hall’s 2012-13 season opens with Riccardo Muti leading the Chicago Symphony in Alternative Energy, an ‘energy symphony’ that spans four movements and hundreds of years. Premiered last season to rave reviews, the work subsequently toured California and receives its Canadian premiere in February by the Toronto Symphony. A new violin concerto for Anne Akiko Meyers and the Pittsburgh Symphony premieres in December under the baton of Leonard Slatkin, and the Pittsburgh Symphony will perform many of Bates’ works as he serves as Composer of the Year.
This season, the Houston Ballet premieres a major new ballet to The B-Sides, a dance suite that drops into five surreal landscapes that has been performed around the country since its San Francisco Symphony premiere. And the Phoenix Symphony presents two of his works this season — Desert Transport, which conjures a helicopter trip over the Arizona landscape, and a new song cycle for soprano and orchestra. While Bates often performs the electronica onstage with orchestras, dozens of repeat performances of his symphonic music happen without him – demonstrating how electronics can act as a new section in the orchestra with little logistical effort. A good example is Mothership, which premiered at the Sydney Opera House by the YouTube Symphony to an online audience of 1.8 million: it will appear on symphonic programs across the country this season.
Many purely acoustic works complement his diverse catalogue, such as Sirens, an a cappella work touring with the superstar chorus Chanticleer. The solo piano work White Lies for Lomax, commissioned by Tanglewood Music Center, won the Van Cliburn Composers Invitational and is heard regularly on recitals. A new string quartet premiered by the Del Sol Quartet at the 2012 Cabrillo Festival receives its Bay Area premiere this December. A great deal of his music has been performed by the musicians of Young Concert Artists, the acclaimed New York organization where he served as composer-in-residence.
Bringing classical music to new audiences is a central part of Bates’ activities as a curator, be it through residencies with institutions such as the Chicago Symphony’s MusicNOW series, or in alternative spaces with Mercury Soul. A collaboration with director Anne Patterson and Maestro Benjamin Shwartz, Mercury Soul embeds sets of classical music into a fluid evening of DJing and immersive stagecraft. Sold-out performances from San Francisco’s famed Mezzanine club to Miami’s New World Symphony have brought a new vision of the listening experience to widespread audiences, and this season it returns to Chicago’s Metro with members of the Chicago Symphony, as well as to Pittsburgh’s Static. For more info, go to www.masonbates.com.
CALL FOR SCORES
Submission receipt deadline: November 12, 2012
Leonard Slatkin, Conductor
Mason Bates, Composer of the Year
Patrick Burke, Mentor Composer
Since the 2004-2005 season, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has offered an annual reading of new works by young composers from area universities as part of its Composer of the Year program. In its ninth year, the PSO's annual reading program expands its call for submissions to residents of Pennsylvania*. Up to four works will be selected for the reading session, where at least one of the spots will be reserved for a student from the universities that have traditionally participated in the program.
Submissions will be evaluated by PSO Composer of the Year Mason Bates in consultation with Mentor Composer Patrick Burke, and read by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conducted by Principal Guest Conductor Leonard Slatkin. The event is free and open to the general public. Following the session, composers will receive feedback from a panel including Mason Bates, Leonard Slatkin, Patrick Purke and PSO musicians.
Eligibility and Submission Guidelines
* Applicants must be residents of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and in the early stages of their professional careers at the time of submission. As part of an ongoing partnership, submissions from the West Virginia University will continue to be accepted. Please see Eligibility and Submission Guidelines below for more details.