Although many Westerners have been fascinated by the sitar, Stephan Mikes one of the few who have undergone the years of rigorous one-on-one training in classical Indian music necessary to do justice to this ancient instrument. As a primary student of sitar master Roop Verma for over 25 years, Stephan is part of a teaching lineage that goes back over 600 years. This lineage includes Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Stephan combines his knowledge of Eastern music with the influence of Latin, Middle Eastern, Afro-Cuban, and Carribean rhythms to create compositions which are unique and compelling.
To date, Stephan has released over 10 recordings of different styles, some modern sitar world jazz, some classical sitar music and music for massage and meditation. Current works in progress include an album of Sitar Electronica and more music for massage and meditation.
Locally, Stephan has been twice honored by the Miami New Times, as Best Acoustic Performer and Best Solo Performer. Ft Lauderdale's XS Magazine named him Best New Age Musician, WLRN Television filmed a full length feature on Stephan's music, and he has performed live on WLRN radio and at other NPR affiliates around the country.
Stephan arrived in South Beach in 1992, taking the island by storm. Soon he was playing five nights a week, hitting every major venue in town. This period inspired the first of his sitar jazz fusion albums, combining the exotic Eastern sound of his Sitar with the sultry melange of Afro-Cuban, Reggae, Haitian, and Latin Jazz he discovered in South Beach.
Medium Rara from Stephan's second album was picked up by world music label Putumayo Records, as a result his music has now been released in over 100 countries. He has performed in concert halls such as the Wang Center in Boston, The Kravis Center in Palm Beach, and the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco while also featuring at hundreds of music and arts festivals across the US. Stephan has performed onstage classical Master Ravi Shankar and pop icons like Donovan and Cheap Trick, and in the world of Latin Music, the sound of Stephan's sitar has been used on recordings by Carlos Ponce and Emilio Estefan.
"The sitar is back and one of it's new contemporary
masters is Stephan Mikés."
- The Palm Beach Post
"Sounds just like the Buddha Bar in Paris."
- George Hamilton
" A master at blending cool Indian-inspired ragas with upbeat
instrumental world jazz."
- 20th Century Guitar Magazine
"He's a Genius."
- Shirley Jones, Broadway, TV and Movie Star
"Playing sitar is extremely challenging, Playing one as well as he does is as rare as a rabbi in the Himalaya Mountains."
- New Times Miami
Stephan's corporate clients include Armani, AirBus International, Bank of America, GlaxoSmithKline, International Polo Assn, MetLife, Merck, J.P.Morgan, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Walt Disney World, General Motors, and more.
All of my earliest memories are about music and sound and the strange, powerful effect they had on me. I remember being five years old and seeing a guitar for the first time. As I stared at it I felt a floating sensation in my belly.
To years later my parents bought me a custom accordion, and under the fine tutelage of Maestro Carmelo of Italy I played my first recital at 9. (Later in life I traded that accordion for an amp stack that was taller than I was!)
At 11 I got my first guitar and dived into the music of the time- Yardbirds, Stones, Beatles, Animals, Cream, Donovan, and then Traffic and Zep and Everybody from California! OMG! And ....by the time Sgt. Pepper came out, I started getting interested in Eastern philosophy and when George and Ravi did the Concert for Bangladesh, I knew I had to play the Sitar.
Fast forward to the 1980's and I am running a recording studio producing mostly feminist folk artists- I still have no sitar. I feel that the desire is too strong to resist any longer, I dedicate myself to finding a sitar and learning how to play, a task much harder in the 1980's before the days of the internet.
After a long and arduous search... I FINALLY find a sitar! Then appeared a lifelong teacher, Roop Verma. Soon after I was initiated into the mysteries of the music of his masters, Ali Akbar Khan, and Ravi Shankar.
After a period of training I would go on to perform all over the US at hundreds of festivals for millions of people, and release over 10 recordings of contemporary original compositions and traditional music, released in over 100 countries. To top it all off, I have also had the opportunity to go on three trips to India to meet and consult with sitar makers all over the country.
Receiving an invitation from the grand master Ravi Shankar himself to come and accompany him at a formal concert was the culmination of so many years of work and one of the most rewarding things I've ever done! Afterwards I was requested to recreate the Sgt. Pepper album live onstage from Donovan and Cheap Trick.
And that is the beginning of my story.