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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. W idely performed by orchestras large and small, his symphonic music has been the first to receive widespread acceptance for its expanded palette of electronic sounds, and it is championed by leading conductors such as Riccardo Muti, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Leonard Slatkin. He has become a visible advocate for bringing new music to new spaces, whether through institutional partnerships such as his residency with the Chicago Symphony , or through his classical/DJ project M ercury Soul, which has transformed spaces ranging from commercial clubs to Frank Gehry- designed concert halls into exciting, hybrid musical events drawing over a thousand people. In awarding Bates the Heinz Medal, Teresa Heinz remarked that “his music has moved the orchestra into the digital age and dissolved the boundaries of classical music.”

The San Francisco Symphony continues its exploration of Bates’ music with its Beethoven & Bates Festival. Each of his three largest works — Alternative Energy, Liquid Interface, and T he B-Sides — will be recorded and paired with a Beethoven work this season and next. Another major work, his V iolin Concerto, was recorded by Leonard Slatkin, the London Symphony , and extraordinary violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, who will perform the work with the Chicago Symphony and many others.

Continuing performances of works such as Mothership, which premiered at the Sydney Opera House by the Y ouT ube Symphony to an online audience of 1.8 million, have demonstrated that electronic sounds can be a welcome addition to the orchestral palette with minimal logistics. While Bates often performs the electronica onstage with orchestras, dozens of repeat performances of his symphonic music happen without him, and many purely acoustic works complement his diverse catalogue. For more info, go to and