Peter Kater was born of German parents in the Bavarian City of Munich. At the age of seven, not long after moving to New Jersey, his mother insisted that he take classical piano lessons. At the age of 18 Peter left New Jersey with his backpack and his music books and hitch-hiked all around the continental US for over a year. He slept in parks and on beaches and roadsides across the country while stopping to play piano at restaurants and lounges for tips and meals. After logging in over 30,000 miles on the road Peter landed in Boulder, Colorado, finding comfort and inspiration in the Rocky Mountains which reminded him of his childhood upbringing in the Bavarian Alps. Shortly thereafter he started listening to the music of pianist Keith Jarrett; the avant jazz group, Oregon; and the Paul Winter Consort. This opened a whole new musical world and he began improvising 3-4 hours a night at clubs and lounges throughout the Boulder/Denver area sometimes 5 to 6 nights a week. After several years he tired of playing clubs and lounges and quit all his engagements and began renting out small churches and self-promoting small concerts through out Colorado.
In 1983 Peter released his first album of solo piano compositions and improvisations entitled SPIRIT. His music was very well received and started charting in the Top 10 of National Contemporary Jazz Airplay charts and within a short couple of years Peter went from playing small churches to performing at 3,000 seat concert halls and at national jazz festivals at the age of 27. In 1985, Actor Robert Redford asked Peter to play at the then brand new Sundance Institute & Film Festival in Utah. Peter became the featured performer at many of Redford’s “green” political fundraisers and events attended by many Hollywood A-list actors, directors and celebrities such as Alan Alda, Sidney Pollock, James Brooks, Dave Grusin, Laura Dern, Mathew Broderick and Ted Turner to name just a very few.
In his concerts around Colorado, Peter started to share the stage with some of his favorite artists from his teen years such as Dan Fogelberg and John Denver. John Denver asked Peter to coordinate the music for his ground breaking "Choices for the Future" Symposiums every summer in Aspen, Colorado and also invited him to perform at concerts in Japan and at World Forum events performing for dignitaries and celebrities such as Mikael Gorbachov and Shirley McLain. These collaborations with John Denver went on for almost 10 years until John’s untimely death in 1997.
Peter’s music also caught the attention of New York City’s legendary director and Circle Rep Theater co-founder, Marshall Mason and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Lanford Wilson. Peter’s music became the score to their Tony-Award winning Broadway production of BURN THIS starring John Malkovich and Joan Allen which ran for over one year. As the newest member of their “A-team” in the following years Peter scored the music for 11 On- & Off-Broadway dramatic plays receiving widespread critical acclaim. As Peter’s music spread across the world he scored more music for television and films and worked closely with his favorite environmental and humanitarian organizations such as Greenpeace, the National Wildlife Federation, the Nature Conservancy and ChildReach.
In 1989 a close friend gave Peter a cassette called “Earth Spirit” by Native American flutist, R. Carlos Nakai. Peter was completely taken by the beauty and earthiness of the Native flute. Peter tracked down Nakai and asked him to collaborate with him on a recording. In the studio they felt as if they’d been playing together forever and their first album, NATIVES, was completed effortlessly in just a few hours. When recording with Nakai, Peter felt he was embarking on a little “personal” indulgence, temporarily diverging from his thriving mainstream contemporary jazz career. But to his surprise, while his recordings like Coming Home, Two Hearts, Gateway and Rooftops were charting in the Top 10 of National Jazz charts; the new recordings with R. Carlos Nakai quickly became immensely popular in the alternative market selling 100’s of thousands of units each and generated a solid and much more personal fan base. Because of the deep satisfaction Peter felt in co-creating this beautiful music with Nakai, he quickly lost interest in the “jazz” genres and shifted his focus to music of a more intimate “healing” nature.
Peter then recognized a need for music in support of the healing arts that could actually aid in deep personal healing and transformation. He recorded albums like Compassion and Essence that provided not only a loving supportive musical landscape but also an invitation to dive deeply and safely into one’s essential emotional and spiritual nature. Many more CD’s in support of the Healing Arts followed as did more recordings with R. Carlos Nakai, seven of which charted in the Top 20 of Billboard’s New Age chart.
Peter’s love and appreciation for the earth and indigenous cultures inspired him to invite more indigenous musicians to record on various projects with him including Native American vocalists Joanne Shenandoah, Bill Miller and Rita Coolidge; Native American flutists Robert Mirabal, Joseph Firecrow, Mary Youngblood, Douglas Blue Feather, Kevin Locke; and South American flutists Jorge Alfano and Ara Tokatlian. Peter also composed two songs for the immensely popular Sacred Spirit recording which sold over 5 millions copies in Europe alone.
Peter’s music continued to grow and evolve and found it’s way into the 2000 and 2004 World Olympics, the Kentucky Derby, the Wild World of Sports and countless television shows like Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, LifeStyles of the Rich & Famous and Bay Watch to name just few. He’s scored the music for acclaimed television series like “How The West Was Lost”; “Wild America”; “Civil War: The Untold Story”; “Eco-Challenge“ and “Joseph Campbell’s MYTHOS series” and films like “SIRIUS”, “The Legend of Secret Pass” and “10 Questions For The Dalai Lama”. He’s given concerts throughout the USA, Europe, Japan and South Korea including performances at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, JFK Stadium in Washington DC, Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver and the United Nations in NYC where he received the prestigious United Nations Environment Leadership Award.
Possibly one of Peter’s strongest attributes is his love for collaboration with other artists such as Singer/songwriter Kenny Loggins; Tibetan flutist, Nawang Khechog; Sting guitarist Dominic Miller; Sacred Chantress Snatam Kaur and of course his legendary collaboration with Native American flutist, R. Carlos Nakai. He’s also enjoyed performing and recording with many other talented musicians such as virtuoso reedman Paul McCandless; Maverick Cellist David Darling; Peter Gabriel’s legendary Bassist, Tony Levin; and renowned Brazilian cellist Jaques Morelenbaum.
Peter has often been called prolific and is said to have the “gift of melody”. His love and enthusiasm for the creative process, self-exploration, the healing arts and the natural world continues to inspire a well-spring of composing and recording. In a thriving career spanning over 3 decades and going strong, Peter Kater has recorded over 60 albums resulting in the sales of millions of units; has scored the music for well over 100 television and film productions including 11 On- and Off-Broadway dramatic plays; ands the recipient of dozens of awards and honors including 14 Grammy nominations and a Grammy Award win for his 2017 Dancing On Water recording and his 2019 "Wings" recording. But most importantly his music has uplifted, soothed, healed and inspired the lives of millions of people all around the world.