Mason Bates (1973- )


Mason Bates’ Mothership is an orchestral work that could only have been born in the 21st century. It received its world premiere at the famed Sydney Opera House in Australia performed by the YouTube Symphony led by Michael Tilson Thomas on March 21, 2011 and was viewed online on YouTube by nearly two million people worldwide. It skillfully merges the usually divergent worlds of classical symphonic music and the driving rhythms of techno and the up-to-the-moment sounds of electronics.

Bates himself straddles that perceived gulf with ease. Holder of a Ph.D. in music from the University of California-Berkeley and recently appointed as the Kennedy Center’s first composer-in-residence, he has also moonlighted as a D.J. for electronic dance music and a techno artist in Oakland, CA. The title Mothership comes from his conception of the orchestra as a large mothership in hyperspace at which various soloists – featured in virtuoso riffs – continually dock throughout the piece. Because these solo riffs are improvised on the spot, no two performances of Mothership will be the same.