for String Quartet
Beautiful City was commissioned by the Birmingham Chamber Music Society for the Miami String Quartet. It was premiered at the beginning of the Birmingham City Council Meeting and was commissioned “to set a mood conducive for constructive dialogue.” The Miami String Quartet premiered it in February, 2007 and it was subsequently broadcast twice on Performance Today on National Public Radio. The theme is derived from the spiritual Oh, What a Beautiful City but set to the time signature of 17/16. The piece was composed while Mason was in Rome having won the Rome Prize in composition. While composing the work he had thoughts of two beautiful cities on his mind. As he looked out the window of his studio in Rome he could see the Eternal City and the beautiful Bass Gardens of the American Academy in Rome. At the same time he was flooded with memories of the tree filled mountains of Birmingham (nicknamed The Magic City).