Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Mason Bates to Introduce Piece Inspired by Climate Change
Mason Bates works as a DJ in several clubs during his spare time, integrating classical music and electronica to packed crowds.
Tuesday, August 13, 2019


Recorded sounds and electronics will evoke the soothing and menacing aspects of water when Mason Bates introduces his “Liquid Interface” at the Sun Valley Music Festival on Wednesday.

See if you can pick out the glaciers calving when Bates presents his piece at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, at the Sun Valley Pavilion.

It’s quite possibly something that would have left Beethoven scratching his head.

But Bates’ blend of classical instruments with electronica and recorded sounds has made him the most performed composer of his generation.

His recent opera “The Revolution of Steve Jobs” not only earned him a Grammy for Best Opera Recording but was hailed as one of the best-selling productions in the history of Santa Fe Opera. It continues to be performed around the country with productions this season at Seattle Opera and Indiana University.

He was named Composer of the Year by Musical America in 2018.

Bates said he began work on his “water symphony” following Hurricane Katrina, which he said was a dramatic illustration of the dangers of global climate change.

The composition kicks off with a section that evokes calving glaciers, with ominous recording of glaciers crashing into the Antarctic ocean layered on top of symphonic music. As the thaw continues, it moves into water droplets splashing from speakers in the form of electronic beats while the orchestra plays on.

The third section, titled “Crescent City”—a focal point for California tsunamis--examines the destructive force of water. It pays homage to New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina with a touch of Dixieland jazz swing. And it is unbelievably virtuosic and fast, said Neale.

The symphony finishes with ambient sounds recorded at a dock on Berlin’s Lake Wannsee.

Bates will perform on an electronic drum pad and laptop.

 Neale calls Bates one of the most distinguished composers of the times at the young age of 42.

“He’s redefined what a 21st century orchestra can do with his electronica sound,” he said.


  • TUESDAY, Aug. 13—The symphony orchestra will perform Anna Clyne’s “Masquerade,” a 2013 composition by a British composer whose music combines acoustic and electronic sounds. This particular piece draws inspiration from mid-18th-century promenade concerts held in London’s gardens with swirling strings and even a dance tune based on an old English drinking song.

    Also, Sergei Prokofiev’s “Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major.” The Russian composer wrote it at breakneck speed during a single month as World War II was turning in favor of the Allies. It glorifies the grandeur of the human spirit, he said.

    Assistant Conductor Sameer Patel will lead a pre-concert chat at 5:45 p.m. at the Lawn Paver Bar.

  • WEDNESDAY, Aug. 14—In addition to Mason Bates’ “Liquid Interface,” violinist Jeremy Constant and viola player Adam Smyla will be featured in Mozart’s “Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat Major for Violin and Viola.” The piece has long been a popular one, with the violin and viola playing in tag-team fashion.

    Following the symphony performance, Bates’ alter ego DJ Masonic will transform the Pavilion lawn into a night club as he lays down beats on the stage by the Big Screen, hosting a special party commemorating the Festival’s 35th anniversary.

  • SATURDAY, Aug. 17—Pops Night will focus on the music of George Gershwin.

Idaho native Morgan James, a classically trained singer who has performed in such Broadway plays as “The Addams Family,” “Godspell” and “Motown: The Musical,” will sing such songs as “Summertime” and “My Man’s Gone Now,” from “Porgy and Bess” and “Embraceable You” from “Girl Crazy.” And pianist and conductor Teddy Abrams, a prodigy at age 3, will perform “Rhapsody in Blue.”

A pre-concert chat will be led by Patel at 5:45 p.m.


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