NEXUS percussion ensemble

Bob Becker | Bill Cahn | Russell Hartenberger | Garry Kvistad

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The first, entirely improvised NEXUS concert in 1971 marked the formation of a group that would touch and entertain people worldwide. Bob Becker, Bill Cahn, Russell Hartenberger and Garry Kvistad are virtuosos alone, and bring elements of their knowledge and character to a distinct and powerful whole. They stand out in the contemporary music scene for the innovation and diversity of their programs, their impressive history of collaborations and commissions, their revival of 1920′s novelty ragtime xylophone music, and their influential improvisatory ideas.

NEXUS’ firm commitment to music education and a steady output of quality CD recordings and compositions by its members continues to enhance the role of percussion in the 21st century. NEXUS’ music, with its widespread appeal, has taken the group on tours of Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Brazil, Scandinavia, Europe, and regularly to the United States and Canada. NEXUS is proud to have been the first Western percussion group to perform in the People’s Republic of China. They have also enjoyed participating at international music festivals such as the Adelaide, Holland, Budapest Spring, Singapore Arts, Tanglewood, Ravinia, and Blossom Music Festivals, as well as the BBC Proms in London, Music Today and Music Joy festivals in Tokyo, and many World Drum Festivals. NEXUS is the recipient of the Banff Centre for the Arts National Award and the Toronto Arts Award. NEXUS was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1999, just before celebrating their 30th anniversary season.

Especially renowned for their improvisational skills, NEXUS was called upon to create the musical score for the National Film Board’s award-winning Inside Time. TV and radio broadcasters such as CBS TV, PBS, and CBC have regularly featured this leading percussion ensemble. NEXUS also created the chilling score for the Academy Award-winning feature-length documentary The Man Who Skied Down Everest. NEXUS’ list of high-profile collaborations includes Steve Reich, the Kronos Quartet, the Canadian Brass, and clarinetist Richard Stoltzman.

Toru Takemitsu, a great friend to NEXUS, composed one of their signature pieces, From me flows what you call Time…. This work, written with each NEXUS member’s personality in mind, was premiered for Carnegie Hall’s centennial celebration in 1990 with Seiji Ozawa conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra (recorded on Sony with the Pacific Symphony). In 2005, Pulitzer Prize winning composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich composed Rituals for NEXUS and Chamber Orchestra. New Music Box calls it “one of Zwilich’s most exciting compositions to date…[a] blockbuster piece!” The recording features NEXUS and the IRIS Orchestra.

In the past 6 years, NEXUS has premiered newly commissioned works from Peter Schickele, Libby Larsen, Michael Burritt, Eric Ewazen, Gordon Stout, and Canada’s Norbert Palej, as well as co-commissioning Steve Reich to write Mallet Quartet which launched their 40th season. New arrangements have been created by NEXUS members Garry Kvistad (Mallet Phase premiered in Greenwich Village at La Poisson Rouge) and Russell Hartenberger (Persian Songs and Moondog Suite). Their newest CD is entitled The City Wears A Slouch Hat and features once-lost works by John Cage that NEXUS was asked to resurrect and premiere for The John Cage Trust in New York State. Their CD Persian Songs features the much-beloved young Iranian vocalist and setar performer Sepideh Raissadat, following on the solo CD Wings (2009) and the Juno-nominated Drumtalker. Ms. Raissadat was the first female vocalist to perform in public in Iran after the 1979 revolution. Her virtuosic performances of traditional Persian music have been enthusiastically praised by audiences in Europe and North America. In 2015 NEXUS joined her for an hour-long Voice of America broadcast of this new musical collaboration. NEXUS has so far performed this new program in Toronto, Kitchener, Ottawa, New York State, and San Antonio TX.

2011/2012 brought sell-outs in Japan, a featured appearance on the Canadian Brass’ best-selling CD Stars and Stripes – A Tribute to the USA, after which the two ensembles appeared together in concert, and John Cage’s 100th Anniversary at Bard College’s Fisher Center. 2013/2014 found NEXUS performing with the Eastman Wind Ensemble in Toronto and the Rochester Philharmonic in Rochester NY. 2014-2016 has taken NEXUS to performances with Steve Reich in Toronto and New York celebrating his 80th birthday, residencies in North and South Carolina and to the Curtis Institute of Music, a concert performance with the percussion section of the Philadelphia Orchestra featuring works by NEXUS members Bob Becker and Bill Cahn; the launch of Maverick Hall’s 100th Anniversary concert series and an appearance with the acclaimed Toronto Children’s Chorus; concerts in San Antonio TX and Rockport MA, Percussion Rochester, Open Ears Festival, Drum Boogie Festival and the Ottawa ChamberFest, and with seven-times Grammy-winner Paul Winter and the throat-singers of Prana which has resulted in a just-released CD Chiaroscuro.  NEXUS wishes to thank Pearl/Adams and The Canada Council for the Arts for their ongoing support.