One of the first American disciples of India’s great Maestro Ali Akbar Khan , Peter van Gelder first appeared on the San Francisco music scene playing bass guitar and soprano sax in the seminal Great Society rock band with then unknown Grace Slick.
He began his study of Sitar with Maestro Ali Akbar Khan in California and later in India where he spent years learning from the Khan family, notably Smt. Annapurna Devi (sister of Maestro Ali Akbar Khan.) Returning to California he resumed his study with Maestro Khan and became junior instructor at the newly formed Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, California.
In 1989 he was awarded the prestigious A.I.I.S. Performance Fellowship from University of Chicago. He was Artist in Residence at Allauddin School of Music in Canada, and in 1991 he initiated a Music of India course at World College West. He continues to give sitar instruction at Ali Akbar College of Music.
A well-known figure to Bay Area concertgoers, he has performed with world famous musicians including Zakir Hussain, Chitresh Das, and Lalgudi Krishnan. He has composed and collaborated on music for films and dance dramas, and his lucid sitar style has won praise from audiences around the world, from Europe to the Fiji Islands as well as India and China. He has given concerts and lectures in universities throughout America.
Peter van Gelder lives in Sonoma County, California and is available for concerts, workshops and individual lessons.