MTT Conducts Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and the World Premiere of
Mason Bates’ The B-Sides
By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka
Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas leads the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) and guest pianist Yuja Wang in Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 May 20th, 22nd and 23rd at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall. The Orchestra will also perform the world premiere of a new work commissioned from Bay Area composer Mason Bates entitled The B-Sides and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 4. These concerts mark Mason Bates’ SFS debut as both a performer and a composer.
Bay Area electronica and classical composer Mason Bates’ The B-Sides is a play on pop music’s way of referring to the more alternative (or less popular) songs on the B-side of a record. According to Bates, the five short orchestral snapshots that make up the work are “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.” An excerpt of the piece was performed at Carnegie Hall on April 15th when MTT conducted the YouTube Symphony concert.
Raised in Virginia where he studied piano with Hope Armstrong Erb and composition with Dika Newlin, Mason Bates enrolled in the Columbia-Juilliard program in New York City. Earning degrees in music composition and English literature, he studied primarily with John Corigliano, and also worked under David Del Tredici and Samuel Adler in addition to playwriting studies under Arnold Weinstein and Kenneth Koch. Later working with Edmund Campion at U.C. Berkeley, he found Berkeley’s Center For New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT) an important influence on his approach to electro-acoustic composition. His awards include a Charles Ives scholarship and fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Jacob Druckman Memorial Prize from Aspen Music Festival, ASCAP and BMI awards, and a Fellowship from Tanglewood.
Twenty-two-year-old pianist Yuja Wang last appeared in Davies Symphony Hall in 2008 with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Prior to that she performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the SFS under the baton of Charles Dutoit in April 2007. Yuja Wang was born in China and at age 15 in 2002 won the Aspen Music Festival’s concerto competition. She then moved to the U.S. to study with Gary Graffman at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she graduated in 2008. In 2006 she received the Gilmore Young Artist Award. She first appeared with the SFS at its Chinese New Year concert in February 2006. For her debut recording on Deutsche Grammophon released in February 2009, titled Sonatas & Etudes, she performs a program of sonatas including Chopin’s Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, “Funeral March,” Liszt’s Sonata in B minor, Scriabin/s Sonata No. 2, and Etudes by Ligeti.
Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas leads the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) and guest pianist Yuja Wang in Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 May 20, 22 and 23 at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. The Orchestra will also perform the world premiere of a new work commissioned from Bay Area composer Mason Bates entitled The B-Sides and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 4. These concerts mark Mason Bates’ SFS debut as both a performer and a composer.
Bay Area electronica and classical composer Mason Bates’s The B-Sides is a play on pop music’s way of referring to the more alternative (or less popular) songs on the B-side of a record. According to Bates, the five short orchestral snapshots that make up the work are “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.” An excerpt of the piece will be performed at Carnegie Hall on April 15 when MTT conducts the YouTube Symphony concert.
Following the concert on Friday, May 22 the SFS presents Davies After Hours where SFS Resident Conductor Benjamin Shwartz and DJ Masonic, the alter-ego of composer Mason Bates, present Mercury Lounge: MERCURY SOUL comes to Davies. Chamber musicians and DJs will join in collaboration in the second tier lobby following the San Francisco Symphony concert. Part performance, part reception, Davies After Hours offers concertgoers the opportunity to enjoy musical groups of other genres reflecting on that evening’s program, in the nightclub-like atmosphere of a transformed top floor of Davies Symphony Hall. With its open air balconies and stunning views overlooking City Hall, Davies After Hours is a unique after-party designed to draw parallels between classical music and the many other popular styles that thrive in the Bay Area. Admission is free for all ticketholders attending the concert on April 24 and a cash bar will be available. Click here for more information: DAVIES AFTER HOURS
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Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.