MusicNOW’s 2014/15 season begins Sept. 29 with a program titled Synchronicity, featuring an ambient pastoral piece by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams, a powerful electro-acoustic work by Chicago-based composer Anthony Cheung and a multimedia work by Michael Gordon and filmmaker Bill Morrison. The concert closes with a visceral sinfonietta by Mason Bates, CSO co-composer-in-residence, inspired by synthetic computing.

MASON BATES: The Rise of Exotic Computing (2013)
Duration: 12 minutes
Instrumentation: Sinfonietta and laptop
Commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Premiered by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on April 5, 2013, at Static in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Publisher/copyright information: Bill Holab Music

The composer writes:

This short and visceral sinfonietta was inspired by the notion of synthetic computing, which allows for computer code to grow itself in a kind of organic way. Hence the motifs of the piece quickly spread from instrument to instrument as the piece unfolds in an infectious manner. Like a self-replicating synthetic computer, the material of this work insidiously jumps from instrument to instrument. It was premiered by members of the Pittsburgh Symphony in a club called Static, so it lives quite close to the world of techno.

About the composer:

Recently awarded the Heinz Medal in the Humanities, Mason Bates writes music that 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.

Along with Anna Clyne, Bates was appointed by Music Director Riccardo Muti as one of the CSO’s Mead Composers-in-Residence beginning in the 2010/11 season for a term of two years. Muti then extended both Bates’s and Clyne’s terms through the 2014/15 season.

Bringing classical music to new audiences is a central part of Bates’ activities as a curator. With Clyne, he has transformed the Chicago Symphony’s MusicNOW series into an imaginative concert experience drawing huge crowds, with cinematic program notes and immersive stagecraft. Another new take on new music is Mercury Soul, which embeds sets of classical music into a fluid evening of DJ-ing 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. A collaboration with director Anne Paterson and Maestro Benjamin Shwartz, it has been performed at Chicago’s Metro with members of the CSO, as well as in spaces from commercial clubs to Frank Gehry-designed concert halls.

During the 2013/14 season, the San Francisco Symphony continues its exploration of Bates’ music with its Beethoven & Bates Festival. Each of his three largest works — Alternative EnergyLiquid Interface and The B-Sides — will be paired with a piece by Beethoven, and all three works will be recorded and released in 2014.

Carnegie Hall’s 2012/13 season opened with Riccardo Muti leading the CSO in Alternative Energy, an “energy symphony” that spans four movements and depicts hundreds of years in the history of industrial development. Premiered by the CSO in February 2012 to rave reviews, the work subsequently toured California with Muti and the CSO; it received its Canadian premiere in February by the Toronto Symphony. In December 2013, a new piece by Bates, Carbon & Carbide, had its world premiere on the CSO’s MusicNOW series, which marked the third world-premiere, MusicNOW-commissioned piece by Bates on the series since he became composer-in-residence. A new violin concerto for Anne Akiko Meyers and the Pittsburgh Symphony, which premiered in December 2012 under the baton of Leonard Slatkin, had its first CSO performance in April 2014.

Performances of his works, both old and new, can be heard across the country. Alternative Energy is appearing on programs ranging from the Cabrillo Festival to the Hartford and Tucson Symphonies. His fast-paced opener Mothership, which premiered at the Sydney Opera House by the YouTube Symphony to an online audience of 1.8 million, can be heard in many around the country each season. Continuing performances of works such as Rusty Air in Carolina, an electro-acoustic tone poem about the ambience of the South, and the sinfonietta Omnivorous Furniture have demonstrated that electronic sounds can be a welcome addition to the orchestral palette with minimal logistics.

For more information about Mason Bates, visit