Friday, January 30, 2015

Kennedy Center taps Bates

Mason Bates, the Richmond-bred composer whose works have been performed by many of this country’s leading orchestras and ensembles, has been named composer-in-residence of the Kennedy Center in Washington for a three-year period beginning in the 2015-16 season.

Bates, now in his sixth year as a composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, will compose works for various groups that perform at the Kennedy Center. Performing groups and series affiliated with the center include the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington National Opera, Kennedy Center Chamber Players and Fortas Chamber Music Series.

No specific commissions have been announced yet.

The 38-year-old composer, who doubles as a DJ in dance clubs and other spaces (in that guise, he’s known as DJ Masonic), also will curate a contemporary music series and work on various projects intended to enhance the Kennedy Center’s presence in the surrounding community.

An alumnus of Richmond’s St. Christopher’s School, Bates went on to study at New York’s Juilliard School and Columbia University, and subsequently earned his doctorate in composition at the University of California at Berkeley. John Corigliano and David Del Tredici were Bates’ principal composition teachers.

Now living near San Francisco, Bates is perhaps best known for works, such as “Rusty Air in Carolina” and “Liquid Interface,” that incorporate electronica (computer-generated electronic sounds) in symphonic orchestrations.

He also has written many chamber and orchestral works with standard instrumentation, including the Violin Concerto that Anne Akiko Meyers has performed with several orchestras, including the Richmond Symphony, since its premiere in 2012, and a Cello Concerto, recently introduced by Joshua Roman with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

In recent years, Bates’ music has been among the most frequently programmed of any living American composer’s.

The Washington Post’s Anne Midgette reports on Bates’ Kennedy Center appointment: