Elizabeth Reian Bennett, Shakuhachi . Photo: Sara Sutliff
Elizabeth Reian Bennett is the first woman to play professionally as a Grand Master of the shakuhachi, the Japanese bamboo flute, and stands out as one of only a handful of western players trained in traditional Japanese music. She has studied and performed with Living National Treasure Aoki Reibo, recognized as one of Japan’s foremost shakuhachi instrumentalists, for over 30 years.
Since her debut recital in Tokyo in 1984, Reian Bennett has performed frequently in Japan and worldwide, from Australia and Europe to Mexico, Afghanistan and the United States. Tokyo performances are planned every two years. Notable venues have included Tokyo National Theater and NHK (Japan National TV); her most recent Tokyo recital was in April of 2012. She as been interviewed on radio by Faith Middleton of Fresh Air, Robert J. Lurtsema of Morning Pro Musica and Richard Knisley of Classical Performances.
Her CD entitled Song of the True Hand, was nominated ‘Instrumental Album of the Year’ by Jon Sobel at Blogcritics Magazine. In describing it, Sobel wrote, “(it exemplifies)… the way a single individual with a musical instrument can wordlessly conjure the human spirit out of thin air.” Hartford Advocate critic Dan Barry compares her musical vocabulary to “…Coltrane in his prime”. Jay Keister, critic for The Journal of the Society for Asian Music, praises “Bennett’s impressive technique…Her skill with the instrument is clearly world-class.”
Reian Bennett teaches the shakuhachi through the world music program at Tufts University, and in the Boston area. Her next CD will be a collection of compositions for the shakuhachi written for her by composer John McDonald of Tufts University.