Composer Mason Bates loves to tell a story—this time it’s prehistoric creatures emerging from the primordial ooze in the form of a violin concerto.
The genesis of the Concerto evolved over many years between two friends: the composer and violinist Anne Akiko Meyers. Eventually she co-commissioned the piece with the Pittsburgh Symphony, and the help of conductor Leonard Slatkin. Then, as she tells it in her interview for wfmt.com, this concerto-creature underwent revisions—sometimes while musicians were sitting on-stage—to become the crowd-pleasing, 30-minute work that’s being offered this week at Symphony Center.
It’s always a good sign when a major soloist believes in a new piece; Anne Akiko Meyers has taken the Concerto to a number of orchestras, and recorded it with Leonard Slatkin and the London Symphony Orchestra. This week she brings it to Chicago for her CSO debut.
The audience doesn’t need to know about Bates’s fantastic orchestral effects to enjoy his Violin Concerto, including a whole scale of pitched metal gongs, called Thai gongs; although it is fun to listen to Anne Akiko Meyers describe some of them:
Mason Bates is the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s composer-in-residence. Performances run through Tuesday, April 22.