Beethoven to Check Into the Bates Motel

It appears the hot new trend this year in symphonic halls will be mixing electronics and beat machines with full-on orchestras performing traditional works. Enter¬†composer Mason Bates who also moonlights as a club DJ and will be “co-headling” January 8-18 with none other than…Beethoven with the San Francisco Symphony.

15 years since Bates first began his interest in psychedelic electronica music while studying at Julliard and more than two decade since he created his first composition for orchestra, the 36 year old composer is about to embark on perhaps one of the most cunning performances of his career.

Bates is well aware of the scoffs that traditionalists have toward the mixing of seminal works with electronics but firmly believes that composers are storytellers of their times, and his merging of instruments with faster BPMs is more than just experimentation but a reflection of the evolution of orchestras.

Bates’ similar tech-orchestra performances with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra are along the lines between trippy and ominously dramatic. Blending his distinct style of hard aggressive beats mixed with Beethoven will prove to be a fiery challenge for Bates. Look for reviews of the coming slew of San Francisco Symphony performances shortly (dates below) and their comparison to similar genre-blenders such as those from Johan Johansson and Max Richter.

San Francisco Symphony

Presenting “Beethoven and Bates,” a two-week festival; Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor; Mason Bates, electronica
When: Jan. 8-18
Where: Davies Symphony Hall, 
201 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco

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