The San Francisco Conservatory of Music is pleased to announce the appointment of composer Mason Bates to its composition faculty

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Media Release


September 11, 2014

Photo: Todd Rosenberg


The San Francisco Conservatory of Music is pleased to announce the appointment of composer Mason Bates to its composition faculty. One of the most widely-performed symphonic composers of his generation, Bates is known for writing innovative, classically-conceived orchestral works that incorporate techniques derived from his career as a DJ and techno artist, such as electronic sounds and samples performed on drumpad and laptop. SFCM welcomes Bates as it expands its curriculum in traditional composition to encompass music technology and composing for film, games and other media.

SFCM President David H. Stull says, “As we deploy a highly innovative curriculum at SFCM, we remain focused on the singular aspect that defines the quality of our school: the faculty. Mason Bates represents an exciting generation of imaginative musicians and teachers and we are very fortunate to have him with us.” Bates joins a faculty of distinguished composers that includes department chair David Conte, Elinor Armer and David Garner ’79. The Conservatory has a history of advocating new music under the leadership of composers such as John Adams and Ernest Bloch, director of the Conservatory from 1925-30. Currently, it fosters student talent and recognizes promising alumni by holding numerous composition competitions and granting annual awards including the $15,000 Hoefer Prize.

Frequently featured by the San Francisco Symphony in its Beethoven and Bates Festival programs, Mason Bates also serves as Composer-In-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and has had works performed by ensembles including the London Symphony, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the YouTube Symphony and the vocal group Chanticleer. In 2012, Bates became one of the youngest recipients ever of the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities. Other honors include the Rome and Berlin Prizes, fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Tanglewood Music Center and the Guggenheim Foundation, First Prize at the Van Cliburn American Composers Invitational and being named the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s 2012-13 Composer of the Year. Bates is also a highly visible advocate for bringing new music to new spaces through his classical/DJ project Mercury Soul, a fluid event that integrates gripping performances of classical music with DJing and imaginative visuals. His performances have drawn crowds of more than a thousand to commercial clubs as well as concert halls.
Bates received degrees in composition and English literature from the Columbia-Juilliard Exchange program where he studied with John Corigliano, David Del Tredici and Samuel Adler. He received a PhD in composition from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied with Edmund Campion. Bates has previously taught music history and literature at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.



About The San Francisco Conservatory of Music:

Founded in 1917, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music is the oldest conservatory in the American West and has earned an international reputation for producing musicians of the highest caliber. Notable alumni include Yehudi Menuhin, Isaac Stern, Jeffrey Kahane, Aaron Jay Kernis and Robin Sutherland, among others. The Conservatory offers its approximately 400 collegiate students fully accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in composition and instrumental and vocal performance. Its Pre-College Division provides exceptionally high standards of musical excellence and personal attention to more than 580 younger students. The Conservatory’s faculty and students give nearly 500 public performances each year, most of which are offered to the public at no charge. Its community outreach programs serve over 1,600 school children and over 11,000 members of the wider community who are otherwise unable to hear live performances. The Conservatory’s Civic Center facility is an architectural and acoustical masterwork, and the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall was lauded by The New York Times as the “most enticing classical-music setting” in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information, visit

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