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John Heitzenrater

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John Heitzenrater is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and educator whose performance career spans more than three decades and many genres. The instrument on which he is featured in Hindugrass is sarod, but he has also appeared performing and in recordings on tabla, bassoon, guitars, bass, ghatam, keyboards, tenor recorder, basketball, darbukka and voice. On sarod, Mr. Heitzenrater is a product of the celebrated Maihar-Allaudin Gharana, which traces its lineage to Mian Tansen, court musician of Akbar the Great and the principle progenitor of modern Hindustani classical music. He studied sarod with Pandit Rajeev Taranath, distinguished disciple of Maestro Ali Akbar Khan and one of the world’s leading exponents of the sarod, and studied tabla with Lucknow Gharana Maestro Swapan Chaudhuri. He is also versed in the folk music traditions of Macedonia and Bulgaria, in Western classical music, and in various American popular traditions including rock, folk, jazz, and bluegrass. In his diverse performance career, he has shared the stage with an array of talented musicians from around the globe, including an appearance at the Dalai Lama’s World Festival of Sacred Music with master South Indian drummer Poovalur Srinivasan, at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles with chitravina virtuoso N. Ravikiran and master drummers Glen Velez and John Bergamo, and accompanied a solo performance by tabla master Pandit Anindo Chatterjee on harmonium. He has also performed with Michael Stipe and Mike Mills of the group R.E.M., with Jody Stephens of Big Star, Pat Sansone of Wilco, Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo, Chris Stamey of the dBs, Mitch Easter of Let’s Active, and was the music director for an acclaimed 2005 tribute concert celebrating the work of Elliott Smith that involved a long list of indie-rock all-stars from NC. Mr. Heitzenrater earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in Composition and Performance (on sarod, guitar, and bassoon) and his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Multi-Focus Guitar performance from California Institute of the Arts, where he was awarded the Music Teachers National Association “Star” award for his pioneering work with the Santa Clarita Valley Community Arts Partnership. In addition to his performance career, John has scored the short films “A Soaring Life” by Lucas Ridley, “The Finish Line” and “Character Face” by Nic Beery and the feature film “20 Years After” by Kooroc films. He recently completed a full score and sound design for the “Iron Curtain Trilogy” of plays by David Edgar, performed in repertory in Raleigh and London by Burning Coal Theater. Mr. Heitzenrater is an active teacher with a large studio of private students in guitar, bass, piano, voice, bassoon, sarod, tabla, composition, theory and songwriting. He has lectured at every major university in central NC, and was on the faculty at North Carolina Central University for eight years, where he taught bassoon, music theory, ear training and music history, and designed and implemented an online course and a seminar on the history and development of 20th century American popular music.