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.