The Musical Director of Toronto Jazz Explorers
Mike Wark is a Toronto-based saxophonist & woodwind specialist, composer, arranger, and music educator, who forges a freelance career built around versatility, but rooted in authenticity due to such a wide variety of interests and influences. Mike received his B.Mus. (Jazz Studies) from Humber College/Thompson Rivers University, and M.Mus. (Jazz Performance) from University of Toronto. He has studied saxophone with Don Palmer, Mark Promane, Kelly Jefferson, Pat LaBarbera, Kirk MacDonald, Mike Murley, flute studies with former T.S.O. flautist Virginia Markson, and improvisation with international saxophonist & jazz pedagogue Dave Liebman.
In Toronto's Jazz scene, he has worked with NOJO, Toronto Jazz Orchestra, Composers Collective Big Band, continues to work with a variety of small ensembles and original projects, and has shared the stage with jazz greats Don Thompson, Randy Brecker, Steve Gadd, Dave Liebman, Ralph Alessi, and Vince Mendoza.
As a woodwind doubler and classical music enthusiast, he has worked in orchestra settings with the likes of the Niagara Symphony Orchestra, Casa Loma Symphony Orchestra, Nova Sinfonia, and shows at the Shaw Festival Theatre.
On the world-music stage he has worked with Latin-Jazz artists like Jane Bunnett, Luis Mario Ochoa and Cimarron, and Gary Morgan’s PanAmericana Ensemble, Persian-Pop stars such as Sattar and Moein, and a countless other groups and musical genres that make up Toronto's multicultural music scene.
As a Blues, Rock, Funk/R&B freelancer and session musician, Mike has backed up Shakura S’Aida, Jack De Keyzer, radio personality Danny Marks, and singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo.
On the Canadian Pop stages, Mike has performed with The Tenors (The Canadian Tenors), children’s entertainer Fred Penner, and celebrity actor & performer Hugh Jackman.
As an in-demand music educator, Mike maintains a roster of private students gives clinics/workshops on Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet, Jazz conception, and Improvisation.