THE INNOCENTS by John Lane and Allen Otte


The Innocents was originally conceived by Allen Otte and John Lane as a performance art piece in collaboration with Cincinnati director Michael Burnham and a group of actors from Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Drama Program, which complemented an exhibition of photography by Taryn Simon, The Innocents, at the Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center.

From the larger performance art piece, which included movement, music, spoken word, and drama, we distilled music and words into an ever-expanding concert work for two speaking performers. Through the use of non-traditional instruments, such as found or street percussion (rocks, pots, pans, books, chains, trash cans, etc...), African mbiras/kalimbas, and the use of electronics, the music and text illustrate the strong and complex emotions brought about by wrongful imprisonment and exoneration. The music is broken into short continuous movements, each dealing with a particular issue.

It is our sincere hope that our music can bring about a greater understanding and awareness on the issue of wrongful conviction. Music from The Innocents was recently featured on the DVD "In Their Own Words," released through the Innocents Project. The Innocents has been performed in various venues including the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, University of Georgia (3-day Interdisciplinary Residency with new music ensemble Bent Frequency), Georgia State University, the Center for Civil and Human Rights (Atlanta, Georgia), Sam Houston State University, and the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana.


"Language is a tremendous gift, but language does not deliver experience, it only describes experience. It mediates between us and reality. And while music and performance cannot be equated with the actual experience of prison or arrest, it avoids the symbolic. It creates experience. What they managed to do was create an experience that brought the listener directly to the horror of what they wanted us to know. From where I sat, this was absolutely ingenious." - Russel Gabriel, Clinical Professor & Criminal Defense Practicum Director, University of Georgia School of Law

"This project in particular continues to feel like a superior interdisciplinary model of art in action, seeking to bring such an honest and deeper meaning to its function and role in society, here to connect people and causes, and to aid in awareness and healing." - Connie Frigo, Association Professor of Saxophone, University of Georgia


Allen Otte

Allen Otte was, in 1972, a founding member of a group whose premise was that percussionists should be able to behave in our time just as string quartets had done since the time of Beethoven. He came to the University of Cincinnati in 1977 with the Blackearth Percussion Group and in 1979 founded the world-renowned ensemble, Percussion Group Cincinnati.

Professor Otte teaches classical and contemporary percussion, eurhythmics, various literature seminars, and coaches and conducts traditional and contemporary chamber music. In addition to his now Emeritus position at the University of Cincinnati, he has also been adjunct professor of eurhythmics at the Oberlin Conservatory. His students are members of major symphony orchestras and service bands, contemporary ensembles, and hold positions at universities throughout the country.

Otte has regularly taught, given master classes, and presented his own creative work—solo and collaborative—throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. With John Lane he performs their creation The Innocents throughout the United States, including at The Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, the Contemporary Arts Center of Cincinnati, and for a conference in conjunction with the Innocence Project of Texas, the Global Center for Democracy and Journalism, and The College of Criminal Justice of Sam Houston State University. His work in this area has led to other invitations, including a residency in Roosevelt University’s Performing Social Justice Program.

Recent guest faculty engagements include the Banff Center for the Arts, the Amsterdam Conservatory, and a creative development residency with the Indianapolis Symphony as instructor in eurhythmics. For ten years he was a coach in the Grandin Festival for Vocal Chamber Music, and for several summers, the Opera Theater of Lucca, Italy.

His broad percussion expertise is reflected in frequent guest artist appearances such as the 2012 Carnegie Hall Tour of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. Amongst many regular invitations as soloist to the Percussive Arts Society’s International Convention, in 2000 he appeared as marimba soloist for their Focus Day on the Marimba. With the improvisation trio Vaster Than Empires (Erica Dicker, violin, Paul Schuette, electronics) he has appeared at university venues, but also in clubs and various alternative spaces in major centers including Chicago and New York City.

In addition to the recorded work of Percussion Group Cincinnati, a CD of 5 collaborative works of Otte and computer music composer Mara Helmuth is available on EMS; Vaster Than Empire’s first release, on the Chicago label Parlour Tapes, came in 2016.

Allen Otte and his colleagues in Percussion Group Cincinnati were inducted into the International Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 2017.

John Lane

John Lane is an artist whose creative work and collaborations extend through percussion to poetry/spoken word and theater. As a performer, he has appeared on stages throughout the Americas, Australia, and Japan. Recent credits include performances at the Hokuto International Music Festival in Japan, Percusión en Escena International Percussion Festival in Bogotâ, Colombia, as concerto soloist with the National Symphony of Panama, and as a featured international guest artist at the Antarctica Music Festival at the Australian National University.

Lungta, his trumpet/percussion duo with trumpeter Amanda Pepping, is dedicated to creating original works and a personal repertoire based largely on collaborations with artists of various disciplines. Commissioning new works and interdisciplinary collaborations are integral to John's work. Over the last few years, he has been connected with a number of composers including Peter Garland, Mark Applebaum, Yo Goto, Emiliano Pardo, Mara Helmuth, Christopher Deane, Marc Satterwhite, John Luther Adams, Kyle Gann, Michael Byron, Wen Hui Xie, Kazuaki Shiota and David Farrell. John has several on-going collaborations with writer Ann McCutchan, poet Nick Lantz, percussionist Allen Otte, visual artist Pat Alexander, and has created original music for choreographer/dancer Hilary Bryan and granite sculptor Jesús Moroles.

John is active in the Percussive Arts Society, serving on the New Music/Research Committee. John has performed a number of times at the the Percussive Arts Society International Convention's Focus Day for New Music. John and percussionist Terry Longshore co-hosted the Focus Day in 2014: Images of Sound: Innovations in Notation.

Currently, John is the Director of Percussion Studies and Associate Professor of Percussion at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX. He taught previously at the University of Wyoming and held fellowships at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and the University of North Texas.

John is a Yamaha Performing Artist and is an Artist with Innovative Percussion, Evans Drumheads, and Zildjian Cymbals.


In addition to the performance aspect of our work, we are interested in cultivating interdisciplinary collaborations and opportunities for residencies, educational/creative workshops, conferences, and anything in between.


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