Initially trained as a concert pianist, Elliot Kanshin Kallen migrated into the world of rock and jazz, playing keyboards for many bands and on many stages. A chance encounter led him to the shakuhachi, the traditional, end-blown bamboo flute from Japan.
For decades, Elliot has lived and breathed shakuhachi, intensely training, teaching, and performing internationally. In 2018 Elliot was given his Shihan (master teacher license) and performance name, Kanshin, by David Kansuke Wheeler of Boulder, CO, and Chikuyusha, the largest shakuhachi teaching organization of its kind in Japan. Elliot Kanshin Kallen is now prominent in a lineage that has its roots in the music of the Komuso, the itinerant Zen monks who used the shakuhachi as a tool for meditation during Japan’s Edo Period (1605-1867).
Kanshin continues to study with David Kansuke Wheeler and with Kansuke’s teacher, Junsuke Kawase III, the third-generation head of Chikuyusha. He recently performed at Tokyo’s National Theater as part of the school’s 150th anniversary celebration.
Elliot Kanshin Kallen performs, teaches, and gives lectures on Japanese classical music and the shakuhachi from his home base in Northern California. He plays shakuhachi in a wide variety of contexts, from traditional Japanese music with koto and shamisen, to the exploratory sounds of the avant-garde. He is a founding member of TenTen Taiko, performing throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. He also performs traditional Japanese ensemble music with koto and shamisen as part of the Edo Ensemble. Mr. Kallen is the current President of the International Shakuhachi Society (see www.komuso.com).