World Flute Society


Shawn Renzoh Head

With an active career as a shakuhachi soloist (Japanese bamboo flute), chamber musician, recording artist, composer, and lecturer, Shawn Renzoh Head is at the forefront of Japanese traditional music and its expansion into the western world. His dedication and sincerity for the shakuhachi has been transcending borders through the commissioning of new works and performances on a multitude of mediums. A musician of meticulousness, appetite for the new, and panache, Head is committed to the shakuhachi as a vehicle of transcendental capabilities.

Shawn is aware that as global communication becomes increasingly apparent, it is the artist’s job to reinvigorate old ideas and render new mediums of artistic expression that reflect a world-wide view. He emphasizes the possibilities and coherence between Eastern and Western ideas; mixing the aesthetics and sensibilities of Japanese music with a Western musical framework. For Shawn, shakuhachi is acting as a passport into Japanese aesthetic, which will help produce an authentic immersion of these two artistic perspectives. Committed to innovative ways of expanding classical music’s social and cultural impact, Shawn has collaborated with various artists and organizations across a host of genres. His current collaborations are with The Path of Tea Houston, Westheimer String Quartet, Francis Fenton (soprano), Susanna Campbell (harpist of Shoso Duo), members of the Houston Symphony, members of the Houston Grand Opera, and other top-tier soloist and chamber musicians around the world. Shawn is the founding member of the Shoso Duo, which is in partnership with co-founder harpist Susanna Campbell. In addition to these, Shawn has an open call for collaboration with composers that actively runs all year.

Born in St. Charles, Missouri, SHawn began formal music education at the age of 10 when he started on viola. Through his education in classical music, he was also introduced to composition and began composing for ensembles in his area at 15. Within the next year, Shawn had his music performed throughout America and Europe. At age 18, Shawn discovered and found his passion for the shakuhachi while traveling throughout Asia. In the years following, he became the youngest non-Japanese shakuhachi shihan (master) in history. Shawn earned his shihan degree under the tutelage of Michael Chikuzen Gould. In 2019, he received the distinct honor of becoming an OSS 大将軍 Tai Shogun, given to him for his work in traditional Japanese music by Ronald Watt 9th Dan Shotokan Karate and Order of the Rising Sun (Japan’s top civilian award). Shawn also earned a bachelor's degree in composition from the prestigious conservatory, the Cleveland Institute of Music, under Professor Keith Fitch and Professor Steven Kohn. He is currently based in Houston, Texas. He performs on eight flutes specifically crafted for him by the revered flute maker, Yozan Hikichi.