Peter Kater is a prolific pianist and composer known for his scores for television, film, and theater, as well as for his own recordings of light jazz and instrumental new age music. He became widely established in the 1980s and '90s, recording numerous albums for the Colorado-based Silver Wave label, several of which were acclaimed collaborations with Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai. He later created his own Virginia-based label and studio, Earth Sea, and found success in the 2000s with a string of Grammy-nominated albums like Red Moon (2003), Faces of the Sun (2007), and In a Dream (2009). During this period, he also composed for film, including scores for the documentary 10 Questions for the Dali Lama (2006) and the animated film The Legend of Secret Pass (2010). His output remained steady over the next decade with additional Grammy nominations for albums like Light Body (2014) and the Tina Guo collaboration Inner Passion (2016), eventually winning a Grammy for his 2017 release Dancing on Water.
Born in Germany, Kater moved from Munich to New Jersey when he was four. He began piano lessons three years later and studied classical music until taking up rock & roll in his early teens. At the age of 18, Kater moved to Boulder, Colorado, where he played improvised music and lived for over a decade before moving to rural Virginia, where he built Earth Sea Studios. Until the opening of Earth Sea in early 1997, Kater had recorded exclusively for the Silver Wave label, starting with his debut release, Spirit, in 1983. He went on to release over 20 albums on Silver Wave, including highly successful collaborations with R. Carlos Nakai that resulted in, among others, How the West Was Lost, Vols. 1-2 and Migration (1992), which also received the NAIRD Best New Age Album Indie Award. Several of Kater and Nakai's recordings rose to the Top 20 of Billboard's new age chart, and a few of Kater's own releases — which range from solo to quintet lineup — have charted in the Top 25.
Since starting his Earth Sea label, Kater has released records that include 1998's Compassion and another collaboration with Nakai titled Winds of Devotion (1999). Source Music put out Heart's Desire in early 2001 and Inner Works: Piano & Strings in 2002, while Silver Wave released 2003's Red Moon, which earned the musician his first Grammy nomination for Best New Age Album. Subsequent albums to receive Grammy nominations included 2005's Piano, Fire from his four-part Element Series, 2007's Faces of the Sun, Ambrosia from the five-part Healing Series, and In a Dream, a 2009 collaboration with Sting guitarist Dominic Miller. Kater's score for the 2010 animated film The Legend of Secret Pass found the artist working instead with a 70-piece orchestra and 50-voice choir.