Hans Utter

A musician, professor, producer, composer, author and podcaster, Han Utter has an unwavering dedication to music and an excellent track record of achievements.

A Brief Biography

Over the Years

His exceptional musical career showcases professional expertise in jazz, rock, electronic music, and orchestral composition, along with two decades of studying and performing Hindustani classical music.

Hans is the recipient of eighteen 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.

The Beginning

The musical journey of Hans Utter began at the tender age of five and has witnessed a captivating journey through western classical music, jazz to Indian classical music and the mesmerizing modal music of Central Asia and the Middle East. Early in his life, Hans developed proficiency in playing the guitar and honed his skills across various genres such as jazz, rock, blues, and classical music. He has opened for famous artists like REO Speedwagon and Jimmie Buffet, was invited for session work as a Guitarist for Public Enemy and Dr. Dre and was the featured artist at Riyad 2020 in Saudi Arabia along celebrities like Jimmie Vaugn and Steven Segal. He has performed at venues such as the Lincoln Theater, the Chicago Jazz Festival, and at the World Cup in Indiana.

Indian Sojourn
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. In India, Hans also trained to be a skilled Tabla player.
Guru’s Grace

Hans had the privilege of meeting Ustad Shujaat Khan and becoming his Shagrid (disciple). Ustad Shujaat Khan (link his page here) comes from Imdad Khan gharana, an unbroken line of seven generations of great musicians, which has made significant contributions to the development of Indian Classical Music. As a disciple of Ustad Shujaat Khan, son of the illustrious sitarist Ustad Vilayat Khan, Hans has trained intensively in India for nearly two decades, eventually becoming an exponent of the Imdad Khan gharana. It has led him on a remarkable musical journey, performing and captivating audiences throughout India with his mesmerizing sitar performances.

Central Asia & the Middle East
Hans had the opportunity to begin touring with the group Turkana and to collaborate with Latif Bolait, who is an expert in the ancient Turkish mystic devotional music genre, leading him to expand his musical horizons and immerse himself in the realms of Arabic, Persian and Central Asian musical styles. Later, Hans has performed Turkish and Arabic music around the United States. In the Middle East, Hans trained himself to be a skilled Oud player, making him one of the rare multi-instrumentalists.
As a Music Composer
Hans is adept as a music composer, recording engineer, producer, and a mastering engineer. His works as a composer include several tracks from Melodic Intersect’s Global Vision album, as well as raga-based pieces for orchestra. Hans has demonstrated his compositional skills by writing film scores and conducting original symphonic compositions at Mankato University and Ohio Northern University. His compositions and performances have been featured on National Public Radio, ABC, the Discovery Channel, Tajik National Radio, and many Indian television networks.
As a Performer
As a professional musician, Hans Utter performs regularly in the United States, India, and Europe. 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 for numerous universities throughout the world, and even 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, Turkana, Dr. Israel, REO Speedwagon, Kalyan Pathak, Ravish Mohan, Steve Gorn, Chuck D, George Sawa, Shujjat Khan, Hidayat Khan, Sufiyana, and Moussa Dieng Kala.
In a band
Hans is the founder of Chakra World Music. (Link https://chakraworldmusic.com/) Chakra is 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. 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.
As an Academic
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 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 Ohio State University, Capital University, and Indira Gandhi National Open University. He also works as a Visiting Professor and Research Advisor at Assam Women’s University, India. He is associated with esteemed organizations like the Society for Ethnomusicology, Association of Asian Studies, the Advancing Interdisciplinary Research on Singing (AIRS) consortium, and The Ohio Arts Council.

His research on the cutting-edge integrated mind/body music pedagogy, the Imdad Khan gharana, and the music and culture 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 an Author
As an author, Hans shows his versatility with a diverse collection of both fiction and non-fiction books and has written for major academic publishing houses. Hans’ notable publications include the book titled “Trance, Ritual and Rhythm: The Cult of Mahasu Deota” (published by B. R. Rhythms, New Delhi, 2010) Blood Lotus (with Jory Farr, published in 2020), Awakened Radiance of Mind (published in 2021). 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. In the year 2023, he has multiple books scheduled for release, encompassing various genres such as fiction, self-help, and non-fiction. He also has a forthcoming book of poetry titled ‘Inside the Dreaming Eye’.

Excellence in Education

Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology

The Ohio State University, June 2011.

M.A. in Ethnomusicology

The Ohio State University, March 2006.

B.A. in Liberal Arts

University of Iowa, 1999.

Diploma in Sitar

Benares Hindu University, 1995. 

Diploma in Hindi

Landour Language School, 1993.


As a teacher, he strives to promote community development and positive international relations by increasing the awareness and appreciation of world music. He has lectured and conducted workshops throughout the world.

Visiting Professor
Assam Women’s University, India.

Since 2021, Hans has been teaching Research Methodology at the Assam Women’s University, India.

Adjunct Professor
The Ohio State University, US

From 2010 session to the 2012 session, Hans taught at the OSU on the following subjects:

  • The World of Music: Music and culture of the world
  • History of Rock and Roll: Roots of Rock from the 19th to the 21st century.
Adjunct Professor
Capital University, Ohio, US

During the winter semester of 2012, Hans took classes on Music Literature II – American popular music from the 19th century to the present.

The Ohio State University, US

From 2003 to 2008, Hans was teaching history of music including:

  • The World of Music: Music and culture of the world.
  • The History of Rock and Roll: Roots of Rock from the 19th to the 21st century.
  • History of Western Art Music: Middle Ages through 20th century.
Arts Learning Educator
Ohio Arts Council, USA

From the beginning of 2011, Hans has been contributing as an Arts Learning Educator at Ohio Arts Council.