Alcvin was born in Japan, attended school in the States, and now lives in the rainforests of BC, Canada. In high school, Alcvin first heard the sound of the horizontal Japanese bamboo flute (yokobue) in the Akira Kurosawa film, RAN, played by master Hiroyuki Koinuma and was deeply inspired to study shakuhachi. After studying Eastern Religions and Philosophy in University Alcvin returned to Japan to study shakuhachi for several years. Through his work with the shakuhachi, Alcvin has had the opportunity to travel through Asia, Australia, Europe, Canada and America learning about various cultures and arts. The shakuhachi continues to lead him to more adventures to fascinating and beautiful places and people through the playing and creation of music.
Alcvin is one of the foremost teachers and performers of shakuhachi in North America. In 2001, he received his shihan (master) license from one of the great shakuhachi masters of Japan, the late Katsuya Yokoyama (founder of the International Shakuhachi Training Centre and brainchild of the World Shakuhachi Festivals) via one of his most exceptional students, Kaoru Kakizakai. Alcvin also studied jinashi shakuhachi playing intensively with Atsuya Okuda of the Zensabo as well as Satsuma Biwa for a year with Yukio Tanaka, leading student of the late Satsuma Biwa master, Kinshi Tsuruta. Alcvin also studies the Tsugaru Shamisen, three-stringed Japanese lute, which is adding a deeper dimension to his understanding and enjoyment of the folk music of Japan.
In November of 2008, Alcvin received an honourary Dai Shihan license along with a new name, “Ryūzen” (Dragon Meditation) from another one of Japan’s most virtuosic players and teachers, Yoshinobu Taniguchi. Previously known as Alcvin “Takegawa” Ramos, Ramos replaced “Takegawa” with “Ryūzen” to embrace the new stage of his development. Alcvin is the first Canadian, and one of only a handful of non-Japanese, to receive this esteemed honour.
Alcvin has also studied shakuhachi construction techniques with Shugetsu Yamaguchi, Murai Eigoro, Kinya Sogawa, and John Kaizan Neptune. After decades of studying and playing, Alcvin has created a unique playing style which effortlessly flows between all worlds of music and meditation.
Alcvin has taught and performed all over North America, Europe, and Japan and pursues an active solo as well as collaborative career and has shared the stage with many distinguished artists such as Bill Laswell, Toshinori Kondo, Hun Huur Tuu Tuvan Throat Singers, Kazutoki Umezu, Celso Machado, Giorgio Magnanensi, Joseph “Pepe” Danza, Kiyoshi Nagata and Nagata Shachu, Uzume Taiko, Ma Jie, Mariano Gonzales, and has opened for Anoushka Shankar and the Yoshida Brothers. Recent bands he has played in: Dharmakasa, Isshin Denshin, Samaya, Densabi, Maru, Grooved Whale Project, and Haagen. 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 in creative, new ways.
Alcvin is involved in his community teaching shakuhachi and collaborating with local artists. He often travels nationally presenting school shows with the Dumpsta Dragons as well as solo and travels internationally presenting solo concerts for shakuhachi and collaborating with other artists in the areas that he visits.
Alcvin is also a craftsman who produces finely crafted jinashi (hocchiku) zen flutes and shinobue. With an intimate knowledge of the koten honkyoku (traditional solo Zen-inspired pieces) and the structure of the flute, each of Alcvin’s flutes is made especially for honkyoku and musical playing. Ramos believes that honkyoku expresses and utilizes the total spirit-sound of the shakuhachi.
Every few years, Ramos takes shakuhachi students to Japan for the Shakuhachi Roots Pilgrimage where they harvest bamboo for making shakuhachi and to visit sacred places around the country in order to deepen their understanding of the instrument.
Alcvin presently lives on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia where he is the director of the Bamboo-In, a retreat centre dedicated to the practice of shakuhachi and construction of Japanese musical instruments.
“For me shakuhachi is a tool for transformation that elicits a metabolic expression and the conviction that music “should not be frozen or unchanging once it is completed but should be apprehended instead as a thing – or process – that evolves from past to present and from present to future.” Another way to express this process is a symbiotic relationship between time and space, and one’s immediate environment. Shakuhachi is my bridge to the world of music which is a portal, a gateway into seeing deeper into oneself which opens doors to other physical and spiritual realms.” — Alcvin Ryūzen Ramos