António Pinho Vargas was born in 1951, in Vila Nova de Gaia near Oporto. He graduated in History and has the final degree in Piano by the Oporto Conservatory. With a scholarship from the Foundation Calouste Gulbenkian, he studied three years with the composer Klaas de Vries at the Rotterdam Conservatory, having majored in Composition in 1990. He was decorated by the President of the Portuguese Republic with the commend Order of the Infante D.Henrique, in 1995. He now teaches Composition at Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa since 1991 . Attended composition courses, workshops and seminars in Portugal with Emanuel Nunes; in the Netherlands with John Cage and Louis Andriessen; in Hungary with Gyorgy Ligeti and in Italy with Franco Donatoni. He was music consultant both to The Serralves Foundation (Oporto) between 1994 and 2000, and Centro Cultural de Belém (Lisbon), between 1996 and 1998.
Begun to play jazz in 1974 with musicians such as Kenny Wheeler, Steve Potts, Paolo Fresu, Arild Andersen, Jon Christensen and Adam Rudolph. With his jazz group he performed trough Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, the former Yugoslavia, The United States of America, Cape Verde, South Africa and Macao. Having recorded : Outros Lugares (1983), Cores e Aromas (1985), As Folhas Novas Mudam de Cor (1987), Os Jogos do Mundo (1989), Selos e Borboletas (1991), A Luz e a Escuridão (1996), and the best-of As Mãos (1998). He was awarded three times with the 'Sete de Ouro', the Portuguese Press Prize for Best Instrumental Record of the Year. He also composes for theatre and cinema, such as for João Botelho’s movies Tempos Difíceis – Hard Times (1988), I.P.C. Award for Best Soundtrack, and Aqui na Terra – Here On Earth (1993); also José Fonseca e Costa’s movie Cinco Dias, Cinco Noites – Five Days, Five Nights (1996), awarded as Best Soundtrack at the Gramado Movie Festival (Brasil) and João Botelho’s Quem és tu? – Who Are You? (2001) and O Fascínio (2003), a José Fonseca e Costa movie. Also composed for Carlos Avilez staging of William Shakespeare's plays Hamlet (1987) and Richard II (1995). In 2008 he returned to his performance activity and edited a solo piano double CD Solo.
Since his years in Holand, António Pinho Vargas composes mainly contemporary music, having reached a proeminent place in the Portuguese music scenario. He had his works performed in France, Germany, Holand, Belgium, Poland, Hungary, Sweden, Spain, Brasil, United Kingdom and USA.
His compositions have been comissioned or sponsored by institutions such as Foundation Calouste Gulbenkian, Culturgest, Lisbon’s 94 – European Capital of Culture, Expo’98, Teatro Nacional de S. Carlos, Porto’2001 – European Capital of Culture.
In António Pinho Vargas’ works, there are compositions for ensemble and solo instruments, such as Mirrors (for piano solo, first performed in Amsterdam, 1990, by Paul Prenen; later performed by Ronald Brautigam, Madalena Soveral, Francisco Monteiro, Tania Achot, Gloria Chen-Chocran, Volker Banfield, Miguel Henriques, and others), or Três Versos de Caeiro (Ensemble Nuova Sincronia, Northern Sinfonia, OrchestrUtopica, Remix Ensemble); compositions for orchestra: Acting Out, A Impaciência de Mahler, for choir and orchestra: Judas secundum Lucam, Joannem, Matthaeum et Marco, and the operas Édipo, Tragédia de Saber and Os Dias Levantados.
In April 2005 took place the premiere of Six Portraits of Pain for cello and large ensemble – Anssi Karttunen, cello and Remix Ensemble conducted by Frank Ollu – at the opening of Casa da Música, Porto. His more recent works include Graffiti [just forms] for large orchestra, Um discurso de Thomas Bernhard, for spreaker and orchestra, Suite for Cello Solo and Movimentos do subsolo - String Quartet nº 2.
He was at Other Minds V Festival, organized by Charles Amirkhanian in S.Francisco, USA, in March 1999; at the International Music Theatre Workshop, at Oper am Rhein in Dusseldorf, for a video presentation of Os Dias Levantados and in 2001 was at the Bellagio Study and Conference Center, Italy, with a scolarship from the Rockefeller Foundation.
The CD Monodia, was edited at 1995 by EMI Classics, sponsored by Lisbon’94 - European Capital of Culture. The string quartet Monodia-quasi un requiem was played in 1998 by the Artis Quartet of Wien, and it’s included in the Portuguese Chamber Music CD, performed by Arditti String Quartet (Etcetera Records). The CD Versos was edited in 2001 by Strauss and the sponsorship of IPAE.
Between February and March 2002, Culturgest promoted a Festival dedicated to António Pinho Vargas’ work. It was made a short film António Pinho Vargas, notas de um compositor – António Pinho Vargas, a composer’s notes , comissioned by Culturgest, LxFilmes and RTP, directed by Manuel Mozos and Luís Correia.
In 2002 also was released of the composer’s first book, Sobre Música – On Music, edited by Afrontamento, which contains seven essays and several texts and interviews. The live recording of the opera Os Dias Levantados, was released at 2005 by EMI Classics. António Pinho Vargas is member of the artistic direction of OrchestrUtopica and one CD Casa da Música /Numérica wuth 3 pices for orchestra was edited in 2008.
He is now doing his PhD degree at the University of Durham(UK) under the supervision of Prof. Max Paddison (University of Durham) and Prof. Boaventura de Sousa Santos (C.E.S. of the University of Coimbra, Portugal), with a Fellowship from the Foundation of Science and Technology.
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