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Classical 101

Presenting Mason Bates This Weekend With Columbus Symphony

This weekend the Columbus Symphony gives the local premiere of Mason Bates's Cello Concerto. The soloist is Joshua Roman, and Rossen Milanov conducts. Mason Bates is new to me. He was born in Virginia in 1977. He is a hot young composer, whose "downtown" persona is traveling very well indeed to worldwide concert venues. Just ask Riccardo Muti, Leonard Slatkin or Michael Tilson Thomas, but three of the conductors who have championed his work. Educated at Julliard and California-Berkeley, Bates has been described as a techno-artist.  Bates is at his most successful in creating large orchestral works that combine - brilliantly - a traditional tonal palette with sounds, techno (electronic) driven, and otherwise. Oh God,  Christopher. Shut up. You're trying not to tell us that his guy does not write cacophony, noise and headache inducing banging and whining for which we've shelled out big bucks to endure in a concert hall.  Gimme a break. This is a rocker who has no business in a concert hall. Guess again. There is not one composer, not Bach, not Mozart, not Wagner who was not intensely interested in sound. Yeah, I can tell you that people hated Beethoven because he pushed the tonal boundaries. I don't find Bates's music cacophonous-in a negative sense-at all. He is using music to incorporate tonalities we encounter every day. He is writing music relevant to a 2015 audience. Dvorak, Smetana even Verdi used folk music-allowing audiences a "Wait I know this!" moment in hearing their music. Bates does he same thing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFh7LAFel4w This weekend, I'll be hearing the cello concerto for the first time, along with the rest of you. What I know from Mason Bates's music to date guarantees a wild and beautiful ride. Don't miss it.