NEXUS Leaps Through Cultural Boundaries on the Rochester Philharmonic Pops Series

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NEXUS performs an ‘African Celebration’ with
master drummer, Abraham Adzenyah

NEXUS, the Toronto-based percussion group, continues to present innovative programs with symphony orchestras in its 1998/99 season. The New York Times (Sunday, May 3, 1998) referred to NEXUS as ‘the high priests of the percussion world’ because the group’s inimitable presentations of music for percussion instruments from all over the world have been greeted with delight by audiences of all ages.

The ensemble’s appearance with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra at the Eastman Theatre on March 26 and 27, 1999 placed the spotlight on percussion. Conducted by R.P.O. Principal Pops Conductor, Jeff Tyzik, the program displayed the rich variety of musical styles for which NEXUS has become so widely recognized.

A Celebration of Percussion
The first half of the program featured two works by NEXUS members. Kebjar-Bali, by Bill Cahn (available on CD by NEXUS with the R.P.O.), carried listeners’ imaginations to the magical island of Bali. Peepers by John Wyre explored the haunting sounds of frogs through a gathering of unique percussion instruments from the NEXUS collection. A selection of novelty xylophone rags from the 1920s, featuring xylophonist extraordinaire, NEXUS member, Bob Becker, demonstrated why NEXUS’ virtuoso performances have been hailed by audiences all over the world.

An African Celebration
The second half of the concert was devoted to West African music. It featured master drummer and dancer, Abraham Adzenyah, who was born in the village of Gomoa Aboso in the southern central part of Ghana, and whose friendship and artistic collaboration with NEXUS began in the early 1970s. The traditional music from Ghana included sophisticated drum ensembles as well as orchestrations of haunting African melodies. In ‘Gahu Songs’, the musicians on stage were joined by Canadian artist, Kathy Armstrong, who led an ensemble of young singers and dancers from the Rochester City Schools in a grand finale of joyful music which brought the audience immediately to its feet.

A World Premier
An exciting new composition for NEXUSConcerto for African Percussion Ensemble & Orchestra by Bill Douglas – was given its world premier and received with enthusiastic ovations from the audience.

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