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Moods: Type: Acoustic New Age: Spiritual World: Japanese traditional

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Alcvin Takegawa Ramos

Born to Filipino parents in Kanagawa prefecture, Japan, in 1969, Alcvin “Ryuzen” 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 instrument's varied repertoire: honkyoku (original Zen meditation music), sankyoku (secular chamber music) and gendai kyoku (new style pieces).

In 2001, Ramos received a shihan (master) license from Katsuya Yokoyama, the head teacher of his school and leading exponent of the instrument, and founder of the International Shakuhachi Training Centre.

In 2008, in recognition of his shakuhachi skill and spreading the instrument around the world, Ramos received an honourary Dai Shihan (grand master) license and the name “Ryuzen” (Dragon Meditation) from Yoshinobu Taniguchi, one of Japan's greatest players and teachers. Previously known as Alcvin “Takegawa” Ramos, Ramos replaced “Takegawa” with “Ryuzen” to embrace the new stage of his development. Ramos is the first Canadian, and one of only a handful of non-Japanese, to receive this esteemed honour.

A composer and multi-instrumentalist, Ramos explores playing with different musical traditions from around the world as well as new ways of playing traditional instruments and combining them with synthesized and electronic music.

Ramos is also a craftsman who produces finely crafted hocchiku flutes (a less refined shakuhachi). With an intimate knowledge of the koten honkyoku (traditional solo Zen-inspired pieces) and the structure of the flute, each of Ramos' flutes is made especially for honkyoku playing. Ramos believes that honkyoku expresses and utilizes the total spirit-sound of the shakuhachi. Every few years, Ramos takes his shakuhachi students to Japan where they harvest bamboo for making shakuhachi and visit sacred places around the country in order to deepen their understanding of the instrument.

Ramos lives in Canada, where he is the director of the Bamboo-In, a shakuhachi retreat centre on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.