Mason Bates & Mercury Soul bring classical music into the clubs

June 13, 2012

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For more than a century, classical music - you know, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and the like - have been largely performed in hushed auditoriums and concert halls.  The mood is formal, the music is king, and the crowds are expected to be seated and silent.

But a new generation of classical music artists...ensembles and administrators are beginning to test those conventions by stretching the music and its trappings in provative ways.

Mason Bates is one of them.

The acclaimed composer is currently composer-in-residence for both the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony.

And when he’s not composing for the world’s top orchestras, he’s spinning beats as DJ Masonic in some of San Francisco’s biggest clubs.

Not surprisingly, much of his compositional work explores the intersections between classical and electronic music. 

And though he's hardly the first composer to explore this terrain (Think: Steve Reich, among others), Bates is building on that tradition by putting the classical canon in the heart of the nightclub.

That's just one aspect of his Mercury Soul project, which features classical musicians performing together with a DJ and a visual and electronic art projection.  This Friday, Bates brings Mercury Soul to Chicago for a performance at the Metro.

So what happens when Eroica meets Electronica?

When Bach meets beats?

We attempt to find out on Wednesday's Afternoon Shift.