Michael J. Miles is a master banjoist, guitarist, orchestral composer, author of numerous theatrical works combining music and history, and acclaimed music educator.
"Genius...in a musician's paradise, the viral videos would be artists like Michael J. Miles playing his banjo." - Lin Brehmer, WXRT
Michael puts his musical stamp all over the walls of the possible and the improbable. Alone in concert or with his signature stage production, “From Senegal To Seeger,” he has had standing ovations on four continents.
But give him a string quartet, a jazz band, an orchestra, a choir and Michael has created new music bringing critical rave and professional respect from musical legends—Pete Seeger, Dave Brubeck, Bela Fleck, Janos Starker, Corky Siegel—and there are more..
And in a world poisoned by international heartache Michael has reached across borders with music as the powerful and wordless weapon of respect. For his work in Morocco, Lebanon, and Turkey, Michael has been heralded by the US State Department on three occasions for his powerful and enduring musical diplomacy.
“I commend you for your hard work as an educator, and send my best wishes." - President Bill Clinton
Michael's concerts are as electrifying as they are illuminating--whether he stands alone on stage, with a small ensemble or with a full orchestra and choir.
"Miles is Chicago's best kept secret...one of the leading lights of contemporary instrumental music." - MIdwest Record
With his banjo and guitar, Michael’s concerts include his innovations into world music, his compositions, JS Bach, stories of four decades of travels. There's literature, politics & passion, some folk songs and pop tunes, music you’ll like and things you’ve never heard before.
Michael is also known as the consummate collaborator—ever pushing the boundaries of what is possible, both in his hometown Chicago and across the world.
"And what an ensemble it was: string quartet, jazz trumpeter, two vocalists and a sleek little rhythm section. With this kind of support, the humble banjo could make the walls of Jericho fall." - Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
Early in Michael's career, Pete Seeger stepped forward and changed his world with his encouragment of Michael’s work. . This led to 25 years of collaboration and correspondence that is on perment display at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music.
“One of the most beautiful I’ve heard. This is enough to make me want to learn the banjo all over again.” - Pete Seeger