NEXUS – Bill Cahn, John Wyre, Bob Becker and Robin Engelman – in January 1984 observed Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Trudeau as he strutted his stuff to Zhao Ziyang, the Premier of the People’s Republic of China. The news photo that appeared in the Toronto Globe and Mail on January 17, 1984 was taken after a command performance by Canadian artists in honor of visiting Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. The photo showed NEXUS standing wide-eyed behind the Prime Minister as he showed off by performing a daring pirouette.
Trudeau had just finished greeting each of the artists, one-by-one, who were all standing in a post-concert reception line. He glared at each performer directly, eyeball-to-eyeball, with a deeply penetrating gaze, as he shaked each one’s hand.
Ziyang was reported as asking, in reply to Trudeau’s expressed concern about the harsh population control policies in China, if Trudeau would would accept 10 or 20 million Chinese as a gift. End of discussion. It wasn’t very long afterwards (2 years?) that Zhao Ziyang ended up in prison in China for being too reformist.
A few months after the National Arts Centre concert, in the summer of 1984, NEXUS would be the first western percussion ensemble to perform in China – Beijing and Shanghai – after the end of the China’s Cultural Revolution.