Friday, April 1, 2016

'Like sending satellites into space'

Richmond-bred Mason Bates, now in his first year as composer-in-residence and curator-host of new-music concerts at Washington’s Kennedy Center, talks with The Washington Post’s Anne Midgette about a creative career at its apogee – with premieres of several major orchestral works each season, an opera-in-the-making on Apple founder Steve Jobs due to be premiered by the Santa Fe Opera in 2017, new recordings of his works by the San Francisco Symphony and Boston Modern Orchestra Project – all of which he’s determined to keep in balance with family and home.

Composing for big orchestras and institutions is “like sending satellites into space,” he says. “How do you know what you’re going to do on Mars 20 years ahead of time?”

Anne Akiko Meyers, with Hugh Wolff conducting the National Symphony, plays Bates’ Violin Concerto in subscription concerts on April 14 and 16, and a “Declassified” program also featuring Bates’ “The B-Sides” and “The Rise of Exotic Computing,” with the composer performing on electronica, on April 15, all in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. “Mason Bates’ KC Jukebox: New Voices, Old Muses,” the last of this season’s series presenting new music in a club setting, will be staged on April 18 in the Kennedy Center Atrium. (See April calendar for details.)