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 concerts of his work, sometimes collaborating with other musicians and artists, often in relatively small ensembles. Vargas has released 9 CDs of his music and in 2003 published an article in Contact Quarterly entitled, "Looking at Composition is like Painting the Golden Gate Bridge: 86 Aspects of Composition." He is currently on the faculty in the dance department at Smith College. 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. For the past 9 years, he has been teaching and performing around the world with dancer Nancy Stark Smith. With a voracious curiosity and a constant hunger for variety, Vargas gobbles up styles of music, learning, listening, imitating, 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 and iPods during the last decade, a broad palette of sonic options has always been a hallmark of Vargas' music.
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