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Silicon Valley’s Got Bollywood: Perform your favorite Bollywood songs and dances. First Friday of each month, 7:30-10:30 p.m. Blue Rock Shoot, 14523 Big Basin Way, Saratoga. Check for event updates at facebook.com/SiliconVal leyBollywood or siliconval leybollywood.com. Saratoga’s Got Talent: Live musical performances, dance, karaoke, stand-up comedy and more–just about anything goes. Kids perform the first hour, and adults after. Every month has a different theme, anchored by a Saratoga High School team. Third Friday of each month, 7-10:30 p.m. Blue Rock Shoot, 14523 Big Basin Way, Saratoga. Check for event updates at facebook.com/ValleyTal ent or subscribe to the email group, groups.google.com/group/ValleyTalent. saratogatalent.com.
Then Bates — how to keep pointe shoes from twisting who has a second career spinning records as a club DJ, often late at night while wife Jamie and their two young children are asleep — flips through a rack of LPs underneath his turntables in the studio: “Do you know Afro-Mystik?” he asks, naming a favorite source of jazzy, down-tempo hip-hop beats, Next he pulls out a funk-jazz classic from 1974: “I still like to find the nuggets of gold in Tower of Power,” he says, fingering his worn copy of “Back to Oakland.”..
Classical composers often reflect the vernacular music of their times — Mahler’s Bohemian dances, Gershwin’s jazz — and Bates, as much as any composer of the new generation, reflects his. As the San Francisco Symphony prepares for the Jan. 8 opening of a two-week “Beethoven and Bates” festival at Davies Symphony Hall, the 36-year-old composer already can look back at the arc of his career: It’s more than two decades since he composed his first orchestral work (for a youth orchestra in his native Virginia; Bates was a precocious high school sophomore), 15 years since he began to seriously feed his addiction for “imaginative and trippy” electronica at clubs on New York’s Lower East Side (while he studied at the Juilliard School of Music).
By collapsing the gap between those two worlds — finding a place in orchestral music for the technology and rhythmic textures of the club scene — Bates is cajoling “the beast,” as he calls the orchestra, to “dance in a new style, … I’m fascinated by what an orchestra can do on a dramatic level, on a sonic level; there don’t seem to be any limits, And the more I’ve gotten involved how to keep pointe shoes from twisting with electronic music, the more I’ve come to appreciate the orchestra as the great synth that it is — the original synthesizer.”..
No one-trick pony, Bates has composed for string quartet, a cappella chorus and other purely acoustic ensembles. But his electro-acoustic works — which often find him performing on drumpad and laptop, triggering beats and effects amid an orchestra’s percussion section — have made his name. It’s been said more than once that Bates has proven to be good bait for new audiences. Three years ago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and maestro Riccardo Muti appointed him as a composer-in-residence. Michael Tilson Thomas, who will lead a third week of Beethoven-and-Bates in September, has championed Bates since 2009. That’s when he premiered “The B-Sides,” to be encored at this month’s festival with Bates as soloist on laptop: “Mason has this enormous imagination for the electronica world,” Tilson Thomas says, “extending and creating another vocabulary of sound, which complements what he’s doing with his notes and base lines and melodies. He blends these two aspects together. … It’s volatile and engaging,” says Tilson Thomas, who also cites the “sheer sensuality” of Bate’s works. “We need people like Mason for the future of our music.”.
Bates and wife Jamie, a molecular biologist, lived in Oakland for 12 years before moving a year ago to their Burlingame home, with its expansive deck and hot tub, Whipping up sandwiches in the kitchen, the composer jokes about being “Mr, Mom”: all the pick-ups and drop-offs of 4-year-old Taliaferro (a boy) and 1-year-old Ryland (a girl) are “making the DJ-ing how to keep pointe shoes from twisting a little hard, I get back at 1 or 2 (in the morning), but the kids are definitely going to be up slamming you at 6; you’ve got to be ready for that.”..
Boyish-looking and easygoing in conversation, Bates is known for his workaholic tendencies and for the intricate craftsmanship of his scores. “He is one of the extraordinary colorists in music today,” says conductor Leonard Slatkin, who premiered Bates’ “Liquid Interface” (also part of the San Francisco festival) with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., in 2007, and in September recorded Bates’ purely acoustic Violin Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra and soloist Anne Akiko Meyers. “I’m taken orchestrally by the sounds he creates, with or without electronics.”.
Over the last decade (which included a three-season stint as composer-in-residence how to keep pointe shoes from twisting with the California Symphony in Walnut Creek), certain hallmark sonorities have emerged in his pieces, These include the whooshing surges of “Alternative Energy” (an “energy symphony,” Bates calls it, leapfrogging across centuries and continents, painting scenes from a 19th-century Michigan junkyard and a post-apocalyptic Icelandic forest) or the exquisite atmospherics of “Rusty Air in Carolina,” which evokes the chatter and buzz of katydids and cicadas, partially by using a vocabulary of blues and bent tones, And while his presence onstage has become a trademark, he has worked hard to craft his music in a manner that allows orchestras to comfortably perform without him, His scores come with a download link to the electronica parts, and his pieces have been played — sans Bates — from Oakland to Mobile, Ala..