Composer Mason Bates says that learning he was among five recipients of the 2012
was a complete surprise. "I got an email saying that Teresa Heinz wanted to speak with me, and I was totally bowled over," Bates reports. "I'm grateful there are still some foundations out there that provide support to individual artists."
Bates, currently composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, was the 2012-2013 Composer of the Year of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He is known for combining electronica with classical compositions and working as composer and DJ through his project Mercury Soul, which brings a combination of both types of music to clubs and other venues. He is just 35, and one of the youngest recipients of the no-strings-attached $250,000 prize, which began in 1993. The Heinz Awards, created in memory of U.S. Sen. John Heinz, will be given out during a private ceremony on Oct. 11.
Other winners in 2012 are:
- In Environment: Richard J. Jackson, a pediatrician and once-controversial researcher into the health impact of community design on children, whose ideas have since been vindicated; he is the host of the public television series, Designing Healthy Communities.
- In Human Condition: University of Maryland-Baltimore County Professor Freeman Hrabowski, who created a scholarship and mentoring program for African-American men interested in math and science, turning his university into one of the country’s leading producers of black graduates who later earn STEM-related doctorates;
- In Public Policy: K.C. Golden, who focuses on creating policies for "sustainable prosperity" that reduce pollution and promote clean energy;
- In Technology, the Economy and Employment: Jay Keasling, who has been instrumental in making the production of a crucial anti-malarial drug possible, and is now working on biofuel production.
What will they do with their prizes? Mason Bates, for one, is a much in-demand composer, but life can get in the way, what with two kids and a house he labels a fixer-upper. "It's still a scary thing to be a freelance composer in 2012," he says. Although he may buy some studio equipment, with the prize, "I'm definitely appreciative of something that can help [the kids'] educational future.
"The main thing," he says, "is that it will buy a bit of security for us and allow me to focus on my music."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Mason Bates