NEXUS in an International and Educational Context

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Concepts and Past Examples of Programs


NEXUS is in the unique position of being influential in many contexts. They are the Ensemble in Residence at the University of Toronto. Two members teach regularly at the University and others are often available for student consultation. NEXUS has become a resource for almost every other performing organization that employs percussion and many which use them as a more general musical resource. This influence spirals outward as Nexus performs, teaches and gives workshops throughout North America and the rest of the world.


Compositions by members of NEXUS now form part of the canon of standard percussion literature wherever Western art music is performed. Members of NEXUS participate as jurors in international percussion competitions and speak or perform at international conferences. Articles and books written by members of NEXUS are read by musicians interested not only in percussion but in related subjects such as improvisation, historical traditions, rhythm and metre, acoustics, compositional trends and many other areas of interest. A PhD candidate at the University of Hong Kong is writing her doctoral dissertation on the history of NEXUS. This breadth of musical interests and longevity of existence puts NEXUS at the forefront of chamber ensembles on the international scene.


In the 2005/2006 season, NEXUS traveled the world and performed. They also participated in some of the most highly acclaimed music festivals in the world. And as is usually the case when NEXUS travels, they were asked to give workshops, master classes, lectures and presentations almost everywhere they visited.


A typical example of the myriad possibilities for NEXUS residencies was their 10 day stay at the Schleswig Holstein Musik Festival in Northern Germany in July 2005. NEXUS performed with the SHM Festival Orchestra under the direction of world-famous conductor, Christoph Eschenbach, and the concert was recorded by NDR. At the renowned Metropolis Cinema in Hamburg, NEXUS presented and performed music live to the 1926 silent film, “A Page of Madness” by Japanese film maker Teinosuke Kinugasa. The music selections were composed and arranged by NEXUS member, Bill Cahn. NEXUS then performed a solo concert, and worked with a group of musicians, primarily European, in a week-long series of workshops, lectures and clinics culminating in a performance by students and members of NEXUS.


Another international highlight of our season was a 10 day residency at the Melbourne Festival which was part of the 2006 Commonwealth Games Cultural Festival – one of the most fascinating and original events in which NEXUS has participated. At the core of the festival was participation by practically every university percussion student in Australia. One hundred students traveled to Melbourne to participate in a 2 week project with NEXUS, and several other percussion groups from all over the commonwealth. The students worked with NEXUS and other groups on a daily basis. Each member of NEXUS presented workshops on such diverse topics as Historical Drumming Styles, Creative Music Making, Minimalism, West African music and Sound Science. NEXUS presented three solo concerts during the residency and participate din a World Drum Festival. The involvement of student percussionists proved to be the key to the success of the whole project and provided an excellent template for future events of this kind.


NEXUS has historically collaborated with many musicians, dancers, composers, singers, and poets. At the Toronto Summer Music Academy and Festival, NEXUS collaborated with an internationally renowned story teller Dan Yashinsky. Another part of this residency was a week of NEXUS workshops and ensemble offerings for students, who came from Canada, the US, Sweden and Finland. Small ensemble groups prepared a variety of percussion pieces culminating in a student performance of the works. Workshops were presented on Xylophone History and Performance, Mystery and Magic of Cymbals, North Indian Drumming, West African Drumming, Orchestra Percussion Overview, Historic Music From the Military Era of Fifes and Drums, Minimalism. and Sound Science. The breadth of these workshops demonstrated the wide range of interests and knowledge of NEXUS members. One of the strengths of the group and one that contributes to the group’s longevity is the academic and research interests by each individual.

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14 years ago

dear nexus,

i’m one of the guys who were at your masterclass in schleswig-holstein ein 2005 with the quartett aghonia. unfortunately the quartett not exist anymore, but i’m still doing lots of chambermusic with my duo “KrausFrink Percussion”. my question is: are you again somewhere in europe for some masterclass?? i would like to take part if there is one! please let me know!

martin frink

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