Nexus (ensemble)

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Nexus is a Toronto-based percussion ensemble that performs jazz, world music, and western avantgarde music.

The ensemble is made up of percussionists Bob Becker (mainly on xylophone and marimba), Bill Cahn (mainly xylophone), Robin Engelman, Russell Hartenberger, John Wyre, and Garry Kvistad. Founding member Michael Craden died of liver cancer in 1982. Wyre died in 2006 and was replaced by long-time professional colleague Garry Kvistad. Engelman resigned from the group in December 2009 because of vision difficulties.

The group formed in 1971 and debuted with a concert of entirely improvised music. In the mid-1970s the group recorded two albums with New Age music pioneer Paul Horn: Paul Horn and Nexus (1975) and Altura Do Sol (1976).

Nexus played on the soundtrack of the 1974 film The Man Who Skied Down Everest, and appeared in the 1975 National Film Board movie Musicanada.[1]

In 1982 the group released Nexus and Earle Birney, a triple-album collaboration with noted Canadian poet Earle Birney.

The group recorded an album for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Dance of the Octopus,[2] in 1990 with harpist Judy Loman.[3]

In 1990, Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu wrote a concerto for percussion ensemble and orchestra entitled From me flows what you call time for the group. Dozens of other composers have written music specifically for Nexus and for individual members of Nexus, and the group's members are also composers and arrangers, writing for Nexus and, on occasion, for others.

In addition to their regular concerts, the group also gives masterclasses and educational performances.

Russell Hartenberger is on faculty at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music (Dean, Chair of Graduate Education, and Professor, Percussion). Robin Engelman was also a long-time staff member at the University of Toronto, where he mainly taught and conducted the percussion ensemble and the contemporary music ensemble.


Nexus has released many albums in the group's career:

Paul Horn and Nexus (Columbia, 1975)
Altura Do Sol (Columbia, 1976) [later reissued as The Altitude Of The Sun (Black Sun, 1989)]
Nexus Ragtime Concert (June 1976 – Umbrella, 1976) [later reissued (Nexus, 1991)]
Music of Nexus (Nexus, 1978)
Under the Umbrella (CP, 1981)
Changes (Nexus, 1982)
Nexus & Earle Birney (1982)
The Best of Nexus (Nexus, 1989)
Nexus Now (June 1989 – Nexus, 1990)
Dance of the Octopus (CBC, 1990) with Judy Loman
Nexus Plays the Novelty Music of G.H.Green (Nexus, 1991)
Origins (August 1991 – Nexus, 1992)
The Story of Percussion in the Orchestra (June 1992 – Nexus, 1992)
Voices (January 1994 – Nexus, 1994)
The Mother of the Book (IRJ, 1994) with Gil Evans
Music for Heaven and Earth (CBC, 1995)
World Diary (Papa Bear, 1995) with Tony Levin
Farewell to Philosophy (May 1995 – Point, 1996)
Toccata (May 1996 – Nexus, 1997)
Nexus meets Peter Sadlo (Koch, 1997)
Rune (Nexus, 1997)
World Drum Festival (March 1997 – Syrinx, 1997)
Orchestral Music of Takemitsu (February 1997 – Sony, 1998)
Garden of Sounds (January 1999 – BIS, 2000), with Richard Stoltzman
Lullaby (Nexus, 2001) with Leigh Howard Stevens
DrumTalker (April 2003 – Nexus, 2003)
Rituals, containing Concert for Violin and Orchestra (October 1998) and Rituals (March 2004) for five percussionists and orchestra
Out of the Blue (March 2005)
Wings (June 2005)

Members of the group have also released solo albums:

John Wyre: Vagabond Dream (Heron, 1991)
Bob Becker: There is a Time (Nexus, 1994)
William Cahn: Solo Percussionist Music (Nexus, 1996)


  1. ^ Wardop, Patricia. "Nexus". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Foundation. Retrieved March 20, 2011. 
  2. ^ Dance of the Octopus – NEXUS
  3. ^ "Judy Loman". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Foundation. 

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