We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.
“NEXUS is widely recognized as one of the most influential percussion ensembles to have emerged in the post-war period” (2006 doctoral dissertation U of Hong Kong.) New York Times has called NEXUS “the high priests of the percussion world” and Steve Reich says, “probably the most acclaimed percussion group on earth.” NEXUS is in the Percussion Hall of Fame (along with Ringo Starr) and tours extensively. The group has participated in 60 international festivals, 4 times at the Kennedy Center, twice at the BBC Proms (Royal Albert Hall), 5 times in Carnegie Hall. The group is made up of four master percussionists internationally revered for virtuosity, innovation and extraordinary music out of the broadest array of percussion instruments imaginable. Their original compositions and arrangements, high-end commissions from Pulitzer prize-winners Steve Reich and Ellen Taafe Zwillich, Grammy-winner Libby Larsen, and Japanese master Toru Takemitsu, and famed collaborations with the likes of Canadian Brass, Kronos Quartet, and Richard Stoltzman, have created repertoire ranging from novelty ragtime and haunting African rhythms through award-winning improvised film music and ground-breaking compositions. NEXUS delivers a stunningly virtuosic spectacle of sound and rhythm.
NEXUS wishes to acknowledge the generous support of Pearl/Adams and the Canada Council for the Arts.
The first, entirely improvised NEXUS concert in 1971 formed a group that touches and entertains people worldwide. Bob Becker, Bill Cahn, Russell Hartenberger and Garry Kvistad are virtuosos alone and bring their knowledge and character to a distinct and powerful whole. NEXUS stands out in the contemporary music scene for innovation, program diversity, an impressive history of collaborations and commissions, their revival of 1920′s novelty ragtime xylophone music, and influential improvisatory ideas.
NEXUS’ widespread appeal has taken the group to Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Brazil, Scandinavia, Europe, and regularly to the USA and Canada. NEXUS was the first Western percussion group to perform in the People’s Republic of China and have participated in 60 international music festivals world-wide. NEXUS has received the Banff Centre’s National and the Toronto Arts Awards. NEXUS was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1999 and into the CBC In Concert Canadian Musician Hall of Fame in 2019.
In Summer 2022 NEXUS was the featured attraction for a ten-day residency at the Sound Symposium in St.John’s NL, and performed in concert with Paul Winter and Henrique Eisenmann in New York. Upcoming events will find them in Rochester NY, Woodstock NY, and Toronto. The covid performing shutdown did not stop NEXUS but found the group continuing their output of new compositions, recordings, articles, podcast appearances and educational work via Zoom. NEXUS’ newest album called simply Steve Reich (June 2021) features NEXUS with Sō Percussion. The two groups joined forces to make a historical video-recording by Four/Ten Media of Steve Reich’s Drumming – a rare opportunity to gather up two of the world’s best percussion groups to celebrate the iconic work’s 50th Anniversary and Steve Reich’s 85th. The end result is both sonically and visually beautiful. NEXUS’ 2019 album Requiem features Toronto’s TorQ and vocalists Lindsay Kesselman and Cory Knight in an 8-movement composition by NEXUS’ Russell Hartenberger.
In 2018 NEXUS and New York’s Sō Percussion honoured Steve Reich in a special event at Princeton University and in 2019 NEXUS & Friends were celebrated at the Rochester Fringe Festival with guests John H. Beck, Michael Burritt, Conrad Alexander, Ruth Cahn, Ray Dillard, Gordon Stout and Brian Stotz. Both events were sold-out.
Previous albums Home celebrates ecological sustainability, and The City Wears A Slouch Hat rediscovers once-lost works by John Cage that NEXUS was asked to resurrect and premiere for The John Cage Trust. NEXUS’ album Persian Songs features beloved Iranian vocalist and setar performer Sepideh Raissadat, following on the NEXUS solo CD Wings and Juno-nominated Drumtalker.
In 2017 NEXUS members Russell Hartenberger and Bob Becker were honoured with the Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts and Musical America’s “Mover & Shaper” award, respectively. The World Cultural Council’s citation says, “Hartenberger is considered a musical visionary and one of the most prominent figures in percussion history”, while Musical America named Becker one of “the Top-30 Professionals in Music” and said, “As a composer, arranger, and founding member of the NEXUS percussion ensemble, Bob Becker has influenced virtually every aspect of percussion performance and repertoire in the profession.”
Especially renowned for improvisational skill, NEXUS created the music for the National Film Board’s award-winning Inside Time, and the chilling score for the Academy Award-winning feature-length documentary The Man Who Skied Down Everest. NEXUS’ high-profile collaborations include the Kronos Quartet and clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, and commissions from Pulitzer Prize winning composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Grammy winner Libby Larsen, Peter Schickele, and many others, including the co-commissioning of Steve Reich for his Mallet Quartet. Toru Takemitsu, a great friend to NEXUS, composed their signature piece From me flows what you call Time…written with each member’s personality in mind. It was premiered for Carnegie Hall’s 1990 centennial conducted by Seiji Ozawa with the Boston Symphony (recorded on Sony with the Pacific Symphony).
NEXUS wishes to thank Pearl/Adams and The Canada Council for the Arts for their ongoing support.
Bob Becker’s performing experience spans nearly all of the musical disciplines where percussion is found. As an artist with the Malletech company he has created signature instruments, mallets and drumsticks, and published over 50 compositions and arrangements. An endorser and designer for the Sabian cymbal company, he was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. In 2006 he was recognized as a “Master Drummer” by the International Association of Traditional Drummers. Naming him one of the Top 30 Professionals of the Year in 2017, Musical America said: “As a composer, arranger, and founding member of the NEXUS percussion ensemble, Bob Becker has influenced virtually every aspect of percussion performance and repertoire in the profession.”
Bill Cahn has been a member of the NEXUS, the Toronto-based percussion group since 1971 performing with renowned symphony orchestras and in solo concerts worldwide. From 2005 to 2015 he was Associate Professor of Percussion at the Eastman School of Music and a visiting artist in residence at the Showa Academy of Music in Kawasaki, Japan. Bill was the principal percussionist in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra from 1968 to 1995. He has served on the RPO Education Committee since 1972, and he is a life member of the orchestra’s Honorary Board of Directors.
Bill has performed with conductors, composers, ensembles, and artists representing many musical styles, including Chet Atkins, John Cage, Aaron Copland, Sir Andrew Davis, Chuck Mangione, Mitch Miller, Seiji Ozawa, Doc Severensen, Leopold Stokowski, Igor Stravinsky, Edgar Varese, and Paul Winter. His book, “Creative Music Making” (2005), on freeform improvisation is published by Routledge Books. Bill’s workshops and residencies include community hand drumming, free-form improvisation, careers in music, and the business of music.
Bill has received the Rochester Philharmonic League’s FANFARE AWARD (1988) for a “significant contribution to music education in Rochester,” Mu Phi Epsilon’s MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR AWARD (1993), and with NEXUS, the TORONTO ARTS AWARD in music (1989), the BANFF CENTRE FOR THE ARTS NATIONAL AWARD (1997), and induction into the Percussive Arts Society’s HALL OF FAME (1999). In 2005 he received the SABIAN LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, and in 2015 the Arts and Cultural Council of Greater Rochester LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD. In 2006 Bill received a GRAMMY Award with the Paul Winter Consort.
Russell Hartenberger is Professor Emeritus and former Dean of the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto. He has been a member of both Nexus and Steve Reich & Musicians since 1971. He is author of Performance Practice in the Music of Steve Reich, editor of The Cambridge Companion to Percussion, and co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to Rhythm. He was inducted into the PAS Hall of Fame with Nexus in 1999 and was presented with the Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts in 2017. In 2020, he was given the PAS Lifetime Achievement Award in Education.
Garry Kvistad joined Nexus in the Fall of 2002 when John Wyre, one of the group’s original members, retired. He has been performing and recording with Nexus co-founders Bob Becker and Russell Hartenberger since joining Steve Reich and Musicians in 1979. Garry is one of 18 musicians to win a Grammy award for the 1998 recording of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians.
Garry attended the Interlochen Arts Academy where he studied with Jack McKenzie and Michael Ranta. He earned his BM from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where he studied with Cloyd Duff and Richard Weiner and his MM from Northern Illinois University, where he studied music, art, and physics in the pursuit of musical instrument building. In 1993 Northern Illinois University honored him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award.
In the 1970s, Garry worked with composer/conductor Lucas Foss as a Creative Associate in Buffalo, New York, after which he joined the faculties of Northern Illinois University and the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. During that time, he co-founded the Blackearth Percussion Group which recorded and toured in the US, Canada, and Europe. Kvistad has served as the timpanist and percussionist with the Chicago Grant Park Symphony, was a summer Tanglewood Fellow, and a percussionist with the Cabrillo Music Festival Orchestra, California.
He has been featured in performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, as well as many others in North America and Europe. The Balinese Gong Kebyar Gamelan ensemble, Giri Mekar, which he formed in 1987, is currently in residence at Bard College where Garry serves as faculty advisor to the Conservatory of Music. Garry is the founder and retired CEO of Woodstock Percussion, Inc., makers of Woodstock Chimes® and musical instruments for children. He is a 1995 winner of Ernst & Young/Inc. Magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Southern New England Region and served as a New York state delegate to the 1995 White House Conference on Small Business. In 2021 after 42 years and 35 million chimes produced, he and his wife sold their business.
Garry served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Woodstock Guild, Woodstock, NY until 2008; and as a member of the Board of Advisors of The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, Arkville, NY. Garry was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society’s Hall of Fame in 2020, joining percussion greats such as NEXUS, Ringo Star, Jack DeJohnette, and Evelyn Glennie.
Garry lives in beautiful upstate New York with his wife Diane, pets and lots of houseplants. They have two daughters, Tasa and Maya, both following artistic paths. And two wonderful grandchildren.