Review: Standing Ovation in California for NEXUS

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Sequenza 21 website has published a great review of NEXUS at California Lutheran University. Read it in full here. It is written by “PaulM”, who notes that Samuelson Chapel was “noticeably full” for NEXUS who has “a presence worldwide”. He mentions NEXUS’ “good groove”, and describes each piece that NEXUS played in detail. He appreciated “the precision of NEXUS in their performance of a portion of Steve Reich’s Drumming:

” It was intriguing to watch the players – their arms barely moved below the elbow and the rapid drumming was done almost effortlessly by wrist and hand. This piece has a very African feel and reflects the influences that Reich had absorbed during his 5 week study of drumming in Ghana just prior to composing this piece.”

The piece FraFra surprisingly “brought rap music to mind”. Regarding the piece Tongues he uses the words “peaceful” and “gentle” and says that ” The overall effect was subtle and serene, a melody that seemed content with its simplicity.”

The California audience was lucky to have a chance to hear NEXUS present a section of improvisation, something they have long been known for. Here is PaulM’s description:

“A time of improvisation followed and the only rule was that any player could play anything on any instrument at any time. This seemed a recipe for ear-splitting chaos but improvisation has been a feature of NEXUS concerts for 41 years and the results were impressive. The piece started quietly with various bells, bowls and blocks and developed a sort of zen feel. This morphed into a kind of urban street-scape complete with car alarm. All sorts of items were used: a bunt cake mold was struck and a chair was dragged across the wooden floor of the stage. There was a breath-operated organ that held a long drone, various bird calls and the slow scraping of cymbals. The result was agreeably alien and not strictly percussive – a sort of sonic journey that reminded me of what JC Combs creates. Most interestingly, this piece was greeted by sustained applause from the audience who had clearly connected with the concept.”

And of course NEXUS concluded with some of their entertaining ragtime pieces, “expertly played and varied from formal, almost classical-sounding pieces to popular music of that time. A standing ovation followed and an encore of virtuosic xylophone music finished a full evening. That so many people came out to see a contemporary music group and listen to an hour of music by Steve Reich is an encouraging sign for all of us here in Southern California.”

We always appreciate feedback after a NEXUS concert. The organizer of the event, Rev Melissa Maxwell-Doherty of CalLuth U, writes that “the NEXUS concert and masterclass were simply inspiring! The whole day was rather remarkable.  They were easy to work with and a joy to be around.” Thanks, Melissa! And thank you to all who came out and enjoyed the events at Cal Luth.

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