Hans Utter- a musician, professor, producer, composer and author has an unwavering dedication to music and an excellent track record of achievements. His musical journey, beginning at the tender age of five, has witnessed a captivating journey through Western classical music, jazz, and Indian classical music to the mesmerizing modal music of Central Asia and Middle East. Not only is he highly skilled in sitar, he also displays his proficiency as a highly skilled guitar and oud player. His journey as a professional musician began at the young age of sixteen. Hans developed proficiency in playing the guitar and honed his skills across various genres such as jazz, rock, blues, and classical music. His exceptional musical background showcases professional expertise in jazz, rock, electronic music, and orchestral composition, along with two decades of studying and performing Hindustani classical music.
Since 1993, Hans embarked on a transformative journey of musical exploration. He began living in India and had the privilege of studying under the expertise of some of the living maestros of Indian classical music- Ustad Shujaat Khan, Pt. Arvind Parikh, Pt. Indra Lal Dandra, and Pt. N. Rajam. In 1995, he achieved a milestone by earning a diploma in sitar from the Banaras Hindu University. Immersed in the rich culture of North India, he also developed fluency in Hindi and Urdu, enhancing his connection to the language as well as culture of India. His meeting with Ustad Shujaat Khan and becoming his shagrid (disciple) led him on a remarkable musical journey, eventually gracing stages and captivating audiences throughout India with his mesmerizing performances. Ustad Shujaat Khan (link his page here) comes from Imdad Khan gharana, an unbroken line of seven generations that has made significant contributions to the development of Indian Classical Music. Hans, too, became an exponent of the Imdad Khan gharana. He began touring with the group Turkana and collaborated with Latif Bolait, expanding his musical horizons and immersing himself in the realms of Arabic, Persian and Central Asian musical styles. His works as a composer include several tracks from Melodic Intersect’s Global Vision album, as well as raga-based pieces for orchestra. He performs regularly in the United States, India, and Europe, and is the recipient of sixteen national and international awards and grants, including the Louis Armstrong Outstanding Musician award, and was also appointed as an Ohio Arts Council Artist in Residence.
In addition to his musical pursuits, Hans Utter is also actively engaged in academia as an ethnomusicologist, a professor, an author, and as a researcher. In 2011, he successfully attained his Ph.D. from the Ohio State University. Recognized for his expertise in the field, he serves as a visiting professor in many universities across India and the USA. He has also taught music at The Ohio State University, Capital University, and Indira Gandhi National Open University. He is associated with esteemed organisations like the Society for Ethnomusicology, Association of Asian Studies, the Advancing Interdisciplinary Research on Singing (AIRS) consortium, and The Ohio Arts Council. As a member of these organizations and institutions, he strives to promote community development and positive international relations by increasing the awareness and appreciation of world music. His research on the cutting edge of integrated mind/body music pedagogy, the Imdad Khan gharana, and the music and cultural of the Silk Road has been presented throughout the world through concerts, lectures, and workshops. His workshops on music and healing, nada yoga, and Sufi music performances reflect his dedication to healing and transformative powers of music.
As a bandleader his projects include Mood Swing, MLQ, Utter Space, and the Hans Utter Trio. His music releases include Pure Land (2012) with his group Chakra and Morning and Evening Mediations (2013) featuring Steve Gorn. He is the founder of Chakra Band- a six-piece ensemble founded in 2008. The music of Chakra is a fusion of North Indian classical music, Arabic music, and jazz. Each member of the ensemble brings years of performance experience in a variety of styles. Chakra bridges the gap between various improvisational styles, blending the music of diverse cultures into an appealing and innovative tapestry.
His compositions and performances have been featured on National Public Radio, ABC, the Discovery Channel, Tajik National Radio, and many Indian television networks. He has performed several times for the United Nations, the Society for Ethnomusicology, the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Jazz and Ribs Fest, the Columbus Arts Festival, and numerous universities throughout the world, and premiered the Broadway music The Last Smoker in America. He has performed and recorded with artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Jim Hall, John Abercrombie, Public Enemy, Dr. Dre, Latif Bolat, Dr. Israel, REO Speedwagon, Kalyan Pathak, Ravish Mohan, Steve Gorn, George Sawa, Shujjat Khan, Hidayat Khan, Sufiyana, and Moussa Dieng Kala. He has lectured and conducted workshops throughout the world.
Hans’ notable publications include the book titled “Trance, Ritual and Rhythm: The Cult of Mahasu Deota” (published by B. R. Rhythms, New Delhi, 2010). Furthermore, he has authored numerous scholarly articles, presented extensively at esteemed national and international conferences. Additionally, Hans has written articles and book chapters for the prestigious Vilayat Khan Foundation and the AIRS project. Notably, he was actively engaged in authoring a biography chronicling the life of the legendary sitarist, Ustad Vilayat Khan.
Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology
The Ohio State University
M.A. in Ethnomusicology
The Ohio State University
B.A. in Liberal Arts
University of Iowa
Diploma in Sitar
Benares Hindu University
Diploma in Hindi
Landour Language School
To be updated soon
Teaching Research Methodology at Assam Women’s University, India.
From 2021 – Present
Working as a Visiting Research Advisor at Assam Women’s University, India.
Arts Learning Educator
From 2011 – Present
Working as an Arts Learning Educator at Ohio Arts Council, USA.
From 2010 to 2012
Teaching about Music and Culture of the World and the History of Rock and Roll at The Ohio State University.
Winter semester 2012
Teaching Music Literature II & American popular music at Capital University, Ohio.
From 2003 to 2002
Teaching about Music and Culture of the World and the History of Rock and Roll at The Ohio State University..
From 2010 – Present
Hans is both the owner and producer of Rigpa Records, USA.
Awards and Grants
Artist in Resident, Ohio Arts Council (2012)
Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award, The Ohio State University (2011)
G. Michael Riley International Award, The Ohio State University (2010)
- Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant, Ohio Arts Council (2014-2022)
- Travel Grant, Greater Columbus Arts Council (2014-2018)
- Professional Development Grant, Greater Columbus Arts Council (2014-2016)
- Travel Grant, Advancing Interdisciplinary Research in Singing, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada (2010-2016)
- Tajikistan Agricultural Field Service Grant, USAID Columbus, Ohio (2010)
- Ray Travel Grant for Community Service, The Ohio State University (2008)
- Travel Grant, College of Arts, The Ohio State University (2008)
- Music Research Grant, The Ohio State University (2008)
- Travel Research Grant, Office of International Affairs, The Ohio State University (2004-2008)
- College of Liberal Arts Travel Research Grant, The Ohio State University (2008)
- Title VII Persian Study Grant in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, ACTR/ACCELS (2006)
- USAID Tajikistan Educators Grant, Columbus, Ohio (2006)
- Federal Language Area Study (FLAS) Program Grant in Persian (2004-2006)