Nexus (ensemble)

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GenresContemporary classical music
MembersGarry Kvistad, Bob Becker, Bill Cahn, Russell Hartenberger
Past membersMichael Craden, John Wyre, Robin Engelman

Nexus is a Toronto-based percussion ensemble that performs standard percussion ensemble repertoire, ragtime music, world music, contemporary classical music and as a group, has performed as soloist with some of the top orchestras around the world.

The ensemble was originally made up of percussionists Bob Becker, Bill Cahn, Robin Engelman, Russell Hartenberger, John Wyre and Michael Craden. Founding member Michael Craden died of liver cancer in 1982. John Wyre died in 2006 and was replaced by long-time professional colleague Garry Kvistad. Robin Engelman resigned from the group in December 2009 due to vision difficulties and died on February 26, 2016.

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 a professor emeritus 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.


Year Title Label Notes
1975 Paul Horn and Nexus Columbia
1976 Altura Do Sol Columbia Later reissued as The Altitude Of The Sun (Black Sun, 1989)
1976 Nexus Ragtime Concert Umbrella Later reissued (Nexus, 1991)
1978 Music of Nexus Nexus
1981 Under the Umbrella CP
1982 Changes Nexus
1982 Nexus & Earle Birney
1989 The Best of Nexus Nexus
1990 Nexus Now Nexus (June 1989)
1990 Dance of the Octopus CBC With Judy Loman
1991 Nexus Plays the Novelty Music of G.H.Green Nexus
1992 Origins Nexus (August 1991)
1992 The Story of Percussion in the Orchestra Nexus (June 1992)
1994 Voices Nexus (January 1994)
1994 The Mother of the Book IRJ With Gil Evans
1995 Music for Heaven and Earth CBC
1995 World Diary Papa Bear With Tony Levin
1996 Farewell to Philosophy Point (May 1995)
1997 Toccata Nexus (May 1996)
1997 Nexus meets Peter Sadlo Koch
1997 Rune Nexus
1997 World Drum Festival Syrinx (March 1997)
1998 Orchestral Music of Takemitsu Sony (February 1997)
2000 Garden of Sounds BIS With Richard Stoltzman (January 1999)
2001 Lullaby Nexus With Leigh Howard Stevens
2003 DrumTalker Nexus (April 2003)
2004 Rituals Containing Concert for Violin and Orchestra (October 1998) and Rituals (March 2004) for five percussionists and orchestra.
2005 Out of the Blue (March 2005)
2005 Wings (June 2005)
2015 Persian Songs (August 2015)[4]

Solo albums[edit]

  • 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.
  4. ^

External links[edit]