[Ed. note: Polly Moller is not just busy telling you about concerts like the one below — while she’s out there pushing for the other guy, I want to mention the she herself has what looks like a great gig, with Pamela Z and Jane Rigler, May 17th at the Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa Street (between Harrison & Alabama), SF. tickets are $10, and you can see more here. Go, Polly! …OK, on with the show…]

Mason BatesSequenza21 readers are a quirky and unpredictable bunch.  But I’m willing to bet that any of them who show up on Wednesday, May 20, Friday, May 22, or Saturday, May 23 at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco will not spend the first half fidgeting around, waiting for the marvelous Yuja Wang to take the stage, so they can text their friends about what kind of gown she’s wearing.  No, our readers will be on the edges of their seats ready for the world premiere of The B-Sides by Mason Bates!

The internet got a taste of Bates’ new work on April 15th, when the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, led by San Francisco’s own Michael Tilson Thomas, played the final movement, “Warehouse Medicine”, in Carnegie Hall.  Bates explains in the program notes that his five-movement piece is “informed by the grooves of electronica as well as the modern masters of orchestral sonority, and might also be said to inhabit the ‘flipside’ of the symphonic world – a place where drum-n-bass rhythms meet fluorescent orchestral textures.”

The B-Sides is dedicated to MTT, who commissioned it.  The maestro invited the composer backstage during a concert intermission in November 2007, “between Tchaikovsky and Brahms,” Bates recalls.  “He suggested a collection of five pieces focusing on texture and sonority—perhaps like Schoenberg’s Five Pieces for Orchestra. Since my music had largely gone in the other direction—large works that bathed the listener in immersive experiences—the idea intrigued me. I had often imagined a suite of concise, off-kilter symphonic pieces that would incorporate the grooves and theatrics of electronica in a highly focused manner.”

Something else Sequenza21 readers are likely to do, if they attend the Friday, May 22 show, is stick around for Davies After Hours. It’ll be hard to resist, with Bates morphing into his alter-ego, DJ Masonic, and joining SF Symphony Resident Conductor Benjamin Schwartz to host a hybrid concert/reception they call Mercury Lounge: Mercury Soul Comes to Davies. DJs and chamber ensembles will offer their reflections on the night’s concert…which oh, by the way, includes Sibelius’ Symphony No. 4 in A minor, Opus 63.

Tickets are available online, and also by phone from the San Francisco Symphony Box Office at (415) 864-6000.

By Polly Moller

Polly Moller is a composer, performer, improviser, performance artist, and curator based in Oakland, California, USA. She practices a lot, writes many grant proposals, drinks a lot of mochas, and serves on the Board of Directors of Outsound Presents.

3 thoughts on “SF Symphony serves up Mason Bates world premiere”
  1. If there were a Mason Bates vs. Daniel B. Roumain smackdown, MB would be mopping the floor with DBR! (Musically speaking… DBR’s a fine guy with some good hooks, but MB takes it to another place.)

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