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You've loved classical music since you first heard Pachelbel, and you've loved electronica since you first hit the dance floor to DeadMau5. So, how to reconcile your two disparate musical souls? We have no idea, but, fortunately, Chicago Symphony Orchestra Mead Composer-in-Residence Mason Bates definitely does.
One of the coolest imports to Chicago in recent memory, the Virginia native also moonlights as an electronica DJ. Well, that's an understatement: A graduate of Juilliard, he has won wide acclaim for his compositions, which seamlessly blend orchestral and electronic music. "An orchestra is the greatest synthesizer in the world," says Bates.
One of the most sought-after composers in America, Bates was recently named a recipient of the prestigious Heinz Award for Arts & Humanities. More good news? Chicagoans have some time to discover his work. Along with fellow Mead Composer-in-Residence Anna Clyne, he recently signed a two-year contract extension with the CSO. If your curiosity is struck, as it should be, don't miss the next installment of the CSO's MusicNOW series, curated by Bates and Clyne, on October 29.
Despite traveling back and forth between his home in San Fran and work here in the Windy City, Bates took some time to hang out with us at Orchestra Hall. He talks about the "aha moment" that inspired his career, what he thinks about the Chicago audience, and more. Oh, and how does this musical genius like to dress? You'll have to click through to find out.
Photographed by Heather Talbert