Combining a chamber ensemble with the rythmic power and drama of electronics, Red River traces the journey of the great Colorado River to its various destinations in the Southwest - Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and ending in the California desert.


Various streams accumulate as the runoff from the Rockies builds into a formidable body of water and are united in the work’s second movement, Interstate 70, which falls into a bumpy and capricious ride. In the lyrical third movement we find ourselves floating high above the river in the red rocks of Arizona’s Grand Canyon. This ponderous movement ends abruptly with the arrival of enormous machinery, and the ensuing Hoover Slates Vegas movement uses all manner of industrial beats in the electronics to conjure up the building of the Hoover Dam.  Exhausted by all this human activity, the river (and the piece) moves to its final resting place, the huge Sonoran Desert in the southeastern California.

Red River (2007) by Mason Bates

Greenwich Music Festival

June 3, 2007

Awarded both a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome and an American Academy in Berlin Prize, Mason Bates composes for a wide variety of media, with a portfolio of orchestral, chamber, theatrical, and electronic works.  Spanning the classical concert hall to the clubs and lounges where he DJs electronica, Bates recently finished a busy summer bringing his music to no fewer than four music festivals. His Rusty Air in Carolina, for orchestra & electronica, a work commissioned by The Winston-Salem Symphony that marries orchestral sonorities and the white-noise of Southern insects, continues to be programmed by a variety of orchestras around the country, and it was heard this summer under the baton of Marin Alsop at Cabrillo Music Festival. 


In February 2008 his orchestral work Liquid Interface received it’s Carnegie Hall premiere by The National Symphony with Leonard Slatkin conducting. Recently named California Symphony's composer in residence, he will begin a three-year association with the orchestra and its music director, Barry Jekowsky.

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