NEXUS with the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra

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Bob Becker, Bill Cahn, Robin Engelman, Russell Hartenberger, Garry Kvistad

with the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra

Michael Stern, conducting

Bob Becker, Bill Cahn, Robin Engelman, Russell Hartenberger, Garry Kvistad

February 16, 17 & 18, 2007

In three performances with the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Michael Stern, NEXUS, the internationally acclaimed percussion group, performed Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s ‘Rituals’, a four-movement concerto co-commissioned in 2003 by NEXUS, the IRIS Orchestra, the Pearl Corporation, Kathleen Holt and Stephen Lurie, and Adams Musical Instruments.

‘Like so many works inspired by the NEXUS quintet, ‘Rituals’ [by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich] is a colorful sound-painting of percussion, exploring timbres usually relegated to an accenting role within the orchestra.’(Symphony Magazine Jan.2006)
‘RITUALS’ is recorded by NEXUS on Naxos CD #8.559268. The work is in four movements, each issuing from a ritual associated with percussion, but with the orchestral interaction providing an essential element in the musical form.  I. Invocation alludes to the traditions of invoking the spirit of the instruments, or the gods, or the ancestors before performing.  II. Ambulation moves from a processional through march and dance to fantasy based on all three.  III. Remembrances alludes to traditions of memorializing.  IV. Contests progresses from friendly competition – games, contests – to a suggestion of a battle of ‘big band’ drummers, to warlike exchanges.

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich has earned an international reputation for producing music that is peculiarly American and that combines craft and inspiration in reflecting the composer’s optimistic and humanistic spirit. Born in Miami, Florida, Zwilich studied with Roger Sessions and Elliot Carter.  She is the recipient of numerous prizes and honors, including the 1983 Pulitzer Prize in music, the Elizabeth Sprague Cooledge Chamber Music Prize, the Ernst von Dohnányi Citation, the Arturo Toscanini Music Critics Award and many others, including four Grammy nominations.

‘In matters of color, nuance and dynamic range, NEXUS offers a stunning virtuoso spectacle. Even more astonishing is the depth of musicianship and superiority of ensemble these five virtuosos brought to bear.’(San Francisco Chronicle)

Nexus acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.

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