The first, entirely improvised NEXUS concert in 1971 formed a group that touches and entertains people worldwide. Bob Becker, Bill Cahn, Russell Hartenberger and Garry Kvistad are virtuosos alone and bring their knowledge and character to a distinct and powerful whole. NEXUS stands out in the contemporary music scene for innovation, program diversity, an impressive history of collaborations and commissions, their revival of 1920′s novelty ragtime xylophone music, and influential improvisatory ideas.
NEXUS’ commitment to music education and a steady output of recordings and new compositions continue to enhance percussion’s role in the 21st century. NEXUS’ widespread appeal has taken the group to Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Brazil, Scandinavia, Europe, and regularly to the USA and Canada. NEXUS was the first Western percussion group to perform in the People’s Republic of China and has participated in 60 international music festivals world-wide. NEXUS has received the Banff Centre’s National and the Toronto Arts Awards. NEXUS was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1999 and into the CBC In Concert Canadian Musician Hall of Fame in 2019.
NEXUS’ newest recording Requiem (Sept 2019) features NEXUS with Toronto’s TorQ and vocalists Lindsay Kesselman and Cory Knight in the 8-movement new work by Russell Hartenberger. NEXUS’ recent album Home celebrates ecological sustainability, while the album The City Wears A Slouch Hat rediscovers once-lost works by John Cage that NEXUS was asked to resurrect and premiere for The John Cage Trust. NEXUS’ album Persian Songs features beloved Iranian vocalist and setar performer Sepideh Raissadat, following on the NEXUS solo CD Wings and Juno-nominated Drumtalker.
Forthcoming in this, NEXUS’ 50th Anniversary Season, is an all Steve Reich recording and an exciting venture with Sō Percussion. The two percussion ensembles have joined forces to make a historical video-recording of Steve Reich's Drumming - a rare opportunity to gather up two of the world's best percussion groups to celebrate the iconic work’s 50th Anniversary and Steve Reich’s 85th. We have an amazing team of artists: NEXUS, So Percussion, Yumi Tamashiro, Daisy Press, Beth Meyers, and Alex Sopp, filmed by Four/Ten Media. The end result is both sonically and visually beautiful and will be released in 2020.
In 2018 NEXUS and Sō honoured Steve Reich in a special event at Princeton University and in 2019 NEXUS & Friends were celebrated at the Rochester Fringe Festival with guests John H. Beck, Michael Burritt, Conrad Alexander, Ruth Cahn, Ray Dillard, Gordon Stout and Brian Stotz. Both events were sold-out.
In 2017 NEXUS members Russell Hartenberger and Bob Becker were honoured with the Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts and Musical America’s “Mover & Shaper” award, respectively. The World Cultural Council’s citation says, “Hartenberger is considered a musical visionary and one of the most prominent figures in percussion history”, while Musical America named Becker one of “the Top-30 Professionals in Music” and said, "As a composer, arranger, and founding member of the NEXUS percussion ensemble, Bob Becker has influenced virtually every aspect of percussion performance and repertoire in the profession.” High-profile commissions have come from Peter Schickele, Libby Larsen, Michael Burritt, Eric Ewazen, Gordon Stout, as well as the co-commissioning of Steve Reich for his Mallet Quartet.
Especially renowned for improvisational skill, NEXUS created the music for the National Film Board’s award-winning Inside Time, and the chilling score for the Academy Award-winning feature-length documentary The Man Who Skied Down Everest. NEXUS’ high-profile collaborations include the Kronos Quartet and clarinetist Richard Stoltzman. Toru Takemitsu, a great friend to NEXUS, composed their signature piece From me flows what you call Time…written with each member’s personality in mind. It was premiered for Carnegie Hall’s 1990 centennial conducted by Seiji Ozawa with the Boston Symphony (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.
NEXUS wishes to thank Pearl/Adams and The Canada Council for the Arts for their ongoing support.