American Mavericks

Mason Bates

(b. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 23, 1977)

Mason Bates bridges classical and popular music. His alter-ego, DJ Masonic, spins and mixes at clubs. In Richmond, Virginia, where Bates grew up, he played piano, sang in choruses, and studied composition with Dika Newlin. He pursued simultaneous degrees in composition and English literature in the Columbia-Juilliard joint program and there found a mentor in composer John Corigliano. He moved to the Bay Area in 2001 to enroll in a doctorate program at Berkeley’s Center for New Music and Audio Technologies.

In 2009 Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony introduced Bates’s The B-Sides, commissioned by the SFS. Mothership, commissioned for the 2011 YouTube Symphony Orchestra, is an acoustic-electronica work that offered YouTube participants the opportunity to improvise sections.

Bates is 2011-12 guest composer in the SFS Project San Francisco initiative, and composer-in-residence for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. “What separates Bates from a lot of other would-be crossovers,” Kyle Gann has written, “is his authenticity in both fields.”