Some things never go out of style — the quest for truth, expression through art and hope for a better world.

The mega rock concert band Yes pushed the boundaries with sound, composition, light shows and lyrics in the early 1970s. Yes was the kind of rare rock band that could incorporate influences from classical composers like Stravinsky and literary giants like Tolstoy into cutting-edge electric performances complete with lasers and synthesizers.

Band co-founder and songwriter Jon Anderson, with his unique vocals, was New Age and Progressive before there were such labels. Decades later, Anderson’s style has evolved, but he is still finding spiritual meaning and artistic creativity through music. During a recent interview, he talked about life, both the sublime and mundane aspects of it, with an infectious positive energy.

Bates College is bringing Anderson to the Olin Arts Center on Sunday, May 15, for a one-man acoustic performance. Tickets, $37.50, may be purchased at www.batestickets.com. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 786-6163.

“I’m writing and singing every day now,” said Anderson. “I’ve really felt I’ve had a rebirth in my creativity and music.”

Anderson, who speaks in the same high-pitched voice and Lancashire accent that distinguishes his singing vocals, referred to recovering from a serious illness in 2008 as a rejuvenating experience.

“Well, I nearly died a couple of times. I was quite ill,” said Anderson, from his home in California. “After about a year, I was able to sing and write again. I’m feeling it’s a new world for me and that life is a celebration.”

Anderson has a new album scheduled for release within the next few weeks called “Survival and Other Stories.” The new songs came as responses to Anderson’s Internet call for musicians. The result was a synthesis of music from artists Anderson knew and some he’d never met. The technological process was light years beyond the first Yes album in 1969.

“You never know who you’re going to meet on the Internet,” Anderson said. “They would send me stuff, I would remix and write more stuff. We’d go back and forth. Finally, I put it all together in a studio here in (Los Angeles).”

Over the years, Anderson has always explored different ways to create and produce music. He is frequently asked to provide vocals on other artists’ projects, including performances with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. He collaborates with Vangelis, an experimental composer best known for his Academy Award-winning score to “Chariots of Fire.” Anderson said he got great satisfaction from working with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra of Cleveland.

“The music is very different, but I’m still writing and singing about the same things really,” Anderson said. “There’s a search for the truth to life, life as a sacred journey, the injustice of corruption. I’m trying to get people to wake up a little.”

More than 30 years after Yes recorded “Don’t Kill the Whale,” Anderson, now 67, still speaks passionately about nature.

“We’re so connected to everything,” Anderson said. “You know, when we mess with Mother Nature, we’re just messing with ourselves.”

Anderson also waxed philosophical about people as he shared his observations after watching a recent episode of “The Amazing Race” with his wife. He made a point of quoting Ghandi in his belief that God has no religion. When asked what he would do without music, his first response was that he’d be a gardener.

After a pause, he added, “Maybe a soccer player. You know, all musicians really want to be soccer players and all soccer players really want to be musicians.”

Anderson said he’d share a little bit of everything at the Bates concert. He’ll play the Yes songs that audiences still clamor for — the most requested ones being “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Roundabout” and “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” He’ll also play his recent compositions and share stories about his life.

“Music is a very powerful thing,” Anderson said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m in front of 10,000 people in Europe or in a small space with a few hundred people. It’s the same amount of energy and having fun with music that happens on stage.”


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