Allen began his musical career as a trombonist, studying at the universities of McGill, Boston, and Yale, and touring with the Great Lakes Brass. While maintaining a performing career, he branched out into radio broadcasting, concert hosting, and public speaking as well as authoring three books and creating a series of Chamber Musicals with the company Tom Allen & Friends including Bohemians in Brooklyn. He currently hosts Shift, a national cross-genre afternoon music program on CBC Music. Allen also works as a concert host and a creative consultant for symphony orchestras. With Peter Oundjian in Detroit, he also co-created Eight Days in June, a ground-breaking festival of music and thought involving multiple genres and media.