Biography

John C. Van Orman holds an MA in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies from the University of Kansas. His graduate studies were focused on the music traditions of the Turkic-speaking peoples of Siberia, a subject in which he had become interested after visiting the Altai Republic. He was a FLAS Fellowship recipient in support of his studies at Ivano Franko University in L’viv, Ukraine where he conducted research on the blind minstrels of that nation. He began building folk music instruments professionally at Here Inc. in Minnesota in 1976. From 1978 to 1993 he worked at North American Carousel and Cart Manufacturing Co. where he was design engineer and shop foreman. During that that period he engaged in building historical replicas of wagons, amusement rides, artillery, stage sets and signage while continuing to design and construct musical instruments. In 1995 he traveled to China in order to study performance on China’s oldest stringed instrument, the guqin, his research on the instrument being published in academia, earning him academic honors including the Sidney DeVere Brown. He now lives in the Ozarks where he teaches cultural anthropology, sociology, Russian culture and language; and continues his pursuits in crafts and music.