In a year of milestones, Mason Bates, former Mead composer-in-residence of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, just chalked up another achievement: Musical America has named him as its Composer of the Year. Also cited in the annual classical music honors, announced Oct. 17, were Andris Nelsons, music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, as Artist of the Year; soprano and Berwyn native Sondra Radvanovsky, Vocalist of the Year; violinist Augustin Hadelich, Instrumentalist of the Year, and Francisco J. Núñez, founding artistic director of the New York City-based Young People’s Chorus, Educator of the Year.
This summer, Bates’ first opera, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, received its world premiere at the Santa Fe Opera, to overwhelming acclaim. “Bates’ music is some of his most inventive and alluring to date, smoothly interfacing with the pixelated dramaturgy as seamlessly paced by director [Kevin] Newbury,” wrote critic John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune. “The score’s pounding, popping, buzzing orchestral groove, overlaid with electronica at key moments, effectively represents the restless mind of [Apple founder Steve] Jobs, forever operating at warp speed.”
Based in San Francisco, Bates is currently composer-in-residence at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. He’s the first person to hold that post, and last week his contract was extended for another two years. While at the CSO, Bates wrote several commissions, including the symphony Anthology of Fantastic Zoology (2015). The work’s live recording, led by Riccardo Muti and released by CSO Resound, received a Grammy nomination as best contemporary classical composition.
Bates and his fellow honorees will receive their awards during a ceremony in December at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Congratulations, Mason!
— Mason Bates (@masonbates) October 17, 2017