Performer and teacher Alcvin Takegawa Ramos is the leading master of the shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) in Canada. Born to Filipino parents in Kanagawa prefecture, Japan, in 1969, Ramos moved with his family to the United States, at the age of six. Ramos became interested in the shakuhachi while attending the University of California in Santa Barbara.
He returned to Japan and studied shakuhachi under several teachers, including Kaoru Kakizakai, Teruo Furuya and Atsuya Okuda. Under them, he learned the instrumentâ€™s varied repertoire: honkoyku (original Zen music), sankyoku (secular chamber music) and gendai kyoku (new style pieces).
In 2001, he received a shihan (master) title from Katsuya Yokoyama, a leading exponent of the instrument and founder of the International Shakuhachi Training Centre.
Today Ramos lives in Canada, where he is the director of the Bamboo-In, a shakuhachi retreat centre on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. Ramos is a craftsman who produces finely crafted hocchiku flutes (a less refined shakuhachi). With an intimate knowledge of koten honkyoku (traditional solo Zen-inspired pieces) and the structure of the flute, each of Ramosâ€™ flutes is made specifically for honkoyku playing. Ramos believes that honkyoku expresses and utilizes the total spirit-sound of shakuhachi.
Every November, Ramos takes his students to Japan where they harvest bamboo for making shakuhachi and visit sacred places around the country in order to deepen their experience of the instrument. Then every June, Ramos holds a workshop at his Bamboo-In Shakuhachi Retreat Centre on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia where he teaches how to craft hocchiku for honkyoku playing. Ramos believes that honkyoku expresses and utilizes the total spirit-sound of shakuhachi, and that making one's own hocchiku gives the student a more holistic and intimate experience of the instrument.
The shakuhachi has evolved from a thin piece of bamboo to highly refined instruments of great aesthetic beauty and sonic strength with plaster/lacquered bores to large, raw bored, long flutes that are very dramatic, complex, and earthy in tone.
In this recording, Ramos uses both jiari and hocchiku flutes created by Japanese master makers, as well as ones that he himself crafted, played with deep respect to the great tradition of shakuhachi as a meditation and musical instrument.