More from Bob’s Archive (Part 10) – Bruce Mather, Tallbrem Variations and Steel Pans

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In 1993 The Esprit Orchestra commissioned the distinguished Canadian composer Bruce Mather to write a concerto to feature the five members of NEXUS (Bob Becker, Bill Cahn, Robin Engelman, Russ Hartenberger and John Wyre). Mather’s piece, Tallbrem Variations, was completed in 1994 and premiered by NEXUS and Esprit (Alex Pauk conducting) on March 29, 1996… Read more »

NEXUS at Fifty: PART 22: 2003

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AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION   In 2003 we commissioned a new work from the distinguished Canadian composer Christos Hatzis, thanks to a Laidlaw Foundation grant. We premiered his piece “Four rituals for Percussion Quintet, Chorus and Audience in Dec.2004 in Toronto, and you can hear a 2005 performance at the Baie des Chaleurs Chamber Music Festival in Dalhousie,… Read more »

Experimental Music – Questions and Responses (August, 2021)

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When an unexpected email arrived from a student I had met only one time two-years earlier.  Here was the student’s question: “For my music course, we have a unit called “Experimenting with Music”, which contains exploration and composition using a variety of musical instrumentation, techniques, or theories. I am amazed by how you and contemporary… Read more »

Bowls, Bells, Brake Drums and Lou Harrison

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In the early days of NEXUS many of our “instruments” were various found objects – things not originally designed to be used in musical contexts. At that time I particularly enjoyed browsing for unusual-sounding implements in hardware stores and kitchenware departments. During the 1970s many common household items were still manufactured using quite high-quality materials…. Read more »

NEXUS at Fifty: PART 21: 2002

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WHEN KRONOS MET NEXUS   The Globe & Mail: “Thirty years ago, 2 ensembles were born – one American, one Canadian – as avant-garde music moved its locus of operation from Europe to North American. The Kronos Quartet from San Francisco soon became one of the leading new-music ensembles in the world…At almost exactly the same… Read more »

1983, Virgin Islands

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My wife, Diane, and I had been living in the Woodstock, NY, area for over three years in 1983. We had founded our company, Woodstock Chimes, just a few years before, in 1979, and our tuned windchimes were steadily gaining in popularity. We had a two-year-old daughter, Tasa, and another one on the way. On… Read more »

NEXUS at Fifty: PART 20: 2001

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DINING AT THE RITZ    We had a short July trip to Hong Kong and Singapore!  In Singapore we performed again in the Victoria Concert Hall as we had 6 years prior. In Hong Kong we gave a masterclass at the University and performed in Sha Tin Town Hall. Here’s Bill Cahn’s snapshot of Robin Engelman… Read more »

R. Murray Schafer – July 13, 1933 – August 14, 2021

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NEXUS was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of R. Murray Schafer, the eminent Canadian composer, on August 14.  NEXUS was fortunate to have crossed paths with Schafer and his music repeatedly over the years since their first performance together in 1972 at the Metropolitan United Church in Toronto. Particularly memorable were performances by NEXUS… Read more »

NEXUS at Fifty: PART 19: 2000

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GARDEN OF SOUNDS In February we released our album with clarinetist Richard Stoltzman entitled “Garden of Sounds” on the BIS label. We had recorded it with Richard the previous year at CBC Toronto. Ray Dillard and Bill Cahn were the producers, Mark Wright the recording engineer. The cover painting is Garden Shadows by our late… Read more »

Never in Word – more questions from Lan KaiPo

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In July, 2021 I received an additional series of questions from percussionist Lan KaiPo regarding my composition Never in Word, as well as some general questions about my compositional method. LKP is currently continuing research for his doctoral dissertation “An Analysis and Performance Guide of Bob Becker’s Never in Word” at James Madison University. His… Read more »

Beethoven’s 5th, Eurythmics Style

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Here’s something that is fun and amazing but strange. It’s the 1st movement of Beethoven’s 5th symphony performed on body percussion by school children. The conductor is using a piano reduction score (which means that it has been simplified and condensed, making it more easily playable on piano) and when s/he opens to the music,… Read more »

NEXUS at Fifty: Part 16: 1997

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RUNE We seemed to hit some kind of perfect constellation for CD recordings in 1997. February took us to California where we performed with the Pacific Symphony Orhcestra under Carl St. Clair in preparation for recording Takemitsu’s “From me flows what you call Time…” the following days. The reviewer of the performance said, “You listen… Read more »

NEXUS at Fifty: Part 15: 1995-1996

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1995   CATHEDRAL SONGS, PEEPERS and COLGRASS   CBC Producer David Jaeger had asked the Winnipeg Symphony’s composer-in-residence Glenn Buhr “to compose a piece that would be an expression of musical community building. The work would be designed as a surround-sound symphony for performance in the Barbara Frum Atrium at the new CBC Centre: on the ground… Read more »

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