Amos Elkana was born in Boston but grew up in Jerusalem. At the age of 15, he picked up the electric guitar and began to study music which soon became his primary occupation in life. In 1987, aged 20, he returned to Boston to study jazz guitar at the Berklee College of Music and composition at the The New England Conservatory of Music. In 1990, he moved to Paris to study composition with Michele Reverdy. He also took composition classes with Erik Norby in Copenhagen, and with Paul-Heinz Dittrich and Edison Denisov in Berlin. In 2007 Elkana received his MFA in music/sound from Bard College, New York. While at Bard, he focused on electronic music and took lessons with Pauline Oliveros, David Behrman, Richard Teitelbaum, George Lewis, Maryanne Amacher and Larry Polansky among others.
Amos Elkana composes concert music for orchestras, ensembles and individual performers as well as music for dance, theatre and films. His works have been performed and recorded by ensembles and musicians from all over the world, such as the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, the clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, Musica Nova Consort, the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, the pianist Gábor Csalog, the Berlin Saxophone Quartet, Stockholm Saxophone Quartet, the flautist Yossi Arnheim, the New Israeli Woodwind Quintet, the Carmel String Quartet, Ensemble Meitar, the ICSQ (Israel Contemporary String Quartet) and many more.
Many of Elkana's compositions are written for traditional orchestral instruments, but without the traditional boundaries. They are his attempt to carry the listener's imagination and senses into new territory. One of Elkana's best known works is "Arabic Lessons", a multilingual song cycle for three sopranos and chamber ensemble that sets to music 13 poems by the German writer and poet Michael Roes. Commissioned jointly by the Berlin Festival and The Tel Aviv municipality, the work won the 2003 Golden Feather of ACUM, Israel's Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. In its review of Arabic Lessons, the English daily Jerusalem Post called it "a perplexing, beguiling 40-minute opus in which the composer challenges the so-called 'acceptable' form of the lieder, shattering it and building it anew, as if constructing a new world from its ashes. ... Arabic Lessons is one of the most significant works composed in Israel for quite a while."
Elkana is also an active performer. He regularly participates in concerts and performances of improvised music where he plays electric guitar and does computer processing. In 2010 he opened the International Litrature Festival in Berlin giving a concert of his music for Recorded voices of poets, Electric guitar and electronics. Elkana is also a part of the duo Concoct Sonance with Yaaki Levy. The duo performes improvisd music and tours on a regular basis.