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Mason Bates

Mason Bates headshot


Office 610


Courses Taught

Applied Lessons


PhD, University of California, Berkeley

MM, The Juilliard School

BA, Columbia College

Awards and Distinctions

Heinz Award in the Humanities

Composer-in-Residence, Kennedy Center

Composer-in-Residence, Chicago Symphony Orchestra


What is your hometown?

Richmond, VA

What is your favorite recording?

Mouse on Mars: Idiology.

What are you passionate about outside of music?


Who were your major teachers?

John Corigliano, David Del Tredici, and Samuel Adler.

What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?

"Themify the theme." (i.e. make the theme more like a theme!)

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

“What should I be listening to?”

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

Hearing Gershwin.

What was a turning point in your career?

Discovering electronica as a college student.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

Writing words.

What is your daily practice routine?

Compose 9-1. Orchestrate 2-5.

What are your most important collaborations?

Mark Campbell (librettist for my opera) and Gus Van Sant (director of the film, Sea of Trees, for which I wrote the music).

Who have you had the privilege of teaching?

Daniel de Togni, Taylor Rankin, Jonah Gallagher, and Yangfan Xu.

What recordings can we hear you on?

Mason Bates: Works for Orchestra, SFS Media

Mothership, BMOP

Anthology of Fantastic Zoology, CSO Resound

What is your unrealized project?

An oratorio or animated film.