2012 Dr. Michael Varner, Percussionist
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Dr. Michael Varner is Director of Percussion Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington, a position he has held for the past 35 years. As director of Percussion activities he is involved in every aspect of percussion including Percussion Ensemble, World Ensemble, Marching Percussion, Marimba Ensemble, and a full schedule of private students. In World Music he teaches a survey of world music class and a world music ensemble. He directs the Percussion Ensembles and World Music Ensembles, and teaches applied lessons as well as percussion pedagogy. He hosted Evelyn Glennie, Peter Erskine, Danny Gottlieb, Gordon Stout, Ney Rosauro, David Samuels, Leigh Howard Stevens, Michael Burritt and many more for the UTArlington Percussion Annual Concerts. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, a Master’s Degree in Performance from The University of Michigan, and a Doctorate in Performance from the University of North Texas, for his dissertation “The Marimba Music of David Maslanka.” Varner’s long association with PAS dates back to some of the earliest conventions, held in Chicago and Rochester, and he was selected to be the Host of PASIC 2000 in Dallas. He served as an officer in both the Texas and Michigan chapters and has written numerous articles for Percussive Notes. Varner has presented clinics for PAS Days of Percussion in Utah, Michigan, Texas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Connecticut, and also performed at PASIC in Columbus, Ohio. He presents numerous solo recitals and presentations across the United States, Europe and Japan, including appearances at the Midwest Convention, and Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Convention. Varner performed regularly with the Fort Worth Symphony, and was Principal Percussionist with the Kalamazoo Symphony. In the field of marching percussion, he taught and composed for the nationally recognized UTA Winter Drumline. Varner will release his latest CD in January 2013 featuring his own compositions. He has over forty compositions published. Varner’s interest in world music led to a sabbatical in Nigeria and he has guided several “Study-Abroad” classes to Ghana.

Widely in demand as an educator and clinician, he has been invited to give presentations throughout the United States, Japan and Europe focusing on developing musical expression. In 2010 he was invited give a presentation on Cymbal history and performance practice at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Convention, the largest music convention in the world. In 2011 he was invited to the Texas Music Educators Association Convention (TMEA) on Percussion pedagogy from the conductors point of view. This is the 2nd largest music convention in the world. In recent past years he has presented by invitation at the European Music Educators Convention held in Frankfurt, Germany, and Music Educators National Conventions and State Music Education Conventions for Connecticut, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Minnesota. Recently the Yamaha music corporation commissioned him to write an article on perfecting the marimba "roll" for their Percussion Education Series. He draws from 36 years experience as a performer presenting repertoire from every musical style including Classical, Contemporary, Jazz, and World beat. He brings to each style of music an unequalled sensitivity and exuberance. Doctor Varner recently presented a series of lecture/recital tours throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. Dr. Varner's performances included presentations on Japanese marimba compositions, and a demonstration of the development of solo marimba literature in the late 20th century. Excerpts from Dr. Varner's tour performances can be viewed and listened to by podcast at the Vic Firth Website. In spring of 2011 Dr. Varner presented a number of master classes for Texas High Schools, Junior Colleges and Universities on performance practice demonstrated with Eric Ewazen's 20 minute epoch solo marimba work "Northern Lights." Subsequently he recorded the work for an upcoming CD. He has performed chamber music and studio work in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area including appearances with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Varner has been a member of the UTArlington Honors college faculty since 1996. As the only music faculty member to be an honors college professor he was chosen as honor faculty member of the year for teaching excllence in 2004, the first year the Honors College named a recipient. He continues his interest in Marching Percussion. Under his guidance the UT Arlington drum line has been nationally recognized performing at numerous marching exhibitions including the 1982, 1988, 1993 and 2000, 2003, and 2008 Percussive Arts Societies International competitions. He instructed renowned drum and bugle corps, including the DCI champion Chicago Cavaliers and the Toledo Glassmen. Dr. Varner continues his interest in composition by accepting frequent commission from university and high schools across the United States. He publishes many of his own compositions and has also released works through Southern Music, Studio Four, and Permus Publications. He has a passion for world music and in 2009 received a Faculty Development Leave Grant to accept an invitation from Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria to work with their faculty and students.

He received his Doctorate in Percussion Performance from the University of North Texas with his dissertation on "The Marimba Concerti of David Maslanka."  He holds a Master of Music degree in Percussion Performance from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of music degree from Bowling Green State University, Ohio.  Prior to his appointment at UTArlington he taught percussion, ethnomusicology, jazz, and marching band at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo.

He is currently an Artist/endorsee for:

Vic Firth Mallets
Yamaha Drums
Sabian Cymbals
Remo Heads
Remo World Percussion