Photo by Thomas Haentzschel

Mike Vargas works internationally as a freelance composer performing, teaching, recording, and improvising. Primarily a solo artist and a pianist, Vargas also specializes in percussion and electronic music. He regularly presents performances of his work, usually involving dancers, sometimes collaborating with other musicians and artists, often in relatively small ensembles.

Vargas has released 10 CDs of his music and has published two articles in Contact Quarterly magazine, one in 2003 entitled, "Looking at Composition is like Painting the Golden Gate Bridge: 86 Aspects of Composition, " and one in 2013, “Notice and Contribute: Collaborative Negotiations Between Music and Dance.” He is currently on the faculty in the dance department at Smith College. He has a daughter, Gray, and lives with his partner Nancy Stark Smith in Florence, Massachusetts.

He began playing music in 1959. His love of adventure and collaboration have led him through many contexts and cultures, from cocktail lounges in Indonesia to New York's Lower East Side, from cancer wards to the Kennedy Center, from New Music America to Playback Theater.

A lifetime of improvising landed Vargas in the dance world, where he collaborates almost daily with moving bodies in space. He started specializing in music for dance in 1978, composing over 100 commissioned scores for choreographers. For the past 15 years, he has been teaching and performing around the world with dancer Nancy Stark Smith.

With a voracious curiosity and a hunger for variety, Vargas has gobbled up styles of music, learning, listening, imitating and inventing. He trained as a classical pianist in the 60's, moved through rock and jazz-rock in the 70's, free jazz and world music, electronic and found sound in the 80's, then studied late-20th century dissonance and came back to the piano in the 90's.  More recently exploring samples, loops, iPods and digital drums during the last decade, a broad palette of sonic options has always been a hallmark of Vargas' music. His current passion is philosophy.

For a full CV click here.

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©2011 Mike Vargas all materials on site, Web site design by Tony Silva