Formed in 1971, Nexus is one of the world's foremost percussion ensembles. The group, which still comprises the original members, has delighted audiences, inspired young percussionists, and encouraged composers the world over. Based in Canada, and in recent years the Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of Toronto, Nexus continues to tour the world, performing, educating, and advocating the magic of live percussion music. Their collection of percussion instruments from many different cultures, and their eclectic programs of wide-ranging repertoire always make for an engaging, exciting concert experience. The group's easy-going, humorous manner and awe-inspiring technical virtuosity has proven to be a winning combination.
Nexus comprises five percussionists: Bob Becker, Bill Cahn, Robin Engelman, Russell Hartenberger, and John Wyre. The core of the ensemble came together through membership in the Steve Reich Ensemble, particularly through work on his large-scale percussion-plus work, Drumming (completed in 1974). An interest in the wider repertoire of percussion music provided the basis for the group's first concert, and has carried them along ever since. It should be noted that improvisation and composition are both central elements of Nexus's basic orientation. A typical Nexus concert might consist of works composed for the ensemble, improvisations using exotic sets of instruments, pieces written by members of the ensemble exploiting the particular talents or instruments of the group, and more than likely some virtuosic marimba music from the ragtime era.
Over the years, Nexus has, in addition to its own concerts, performed with a variety of other performers, including orchestras, choirs, and soloists. One of the most prestigious of these events was the premiere of a major work by famed Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, for Nexus and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. From Me Flows What You Call Time was written to commemorate the centennial of Carnegie Hall in New York City. Since 1990, Nexus has performed this piece with a number of orchestras around the world, recording it for Sony with the Pacific Symphony in 1997. In addition to Reich and Takemitsu, Nexus has worked with such composers as Gavin Bryars, Harry Freedman, Bruce Mather, and James Tenney among many others.
Nexus oversees its own record label, Nexus Records, for which it has produced a number of releases. They also appear on various other labels. In 1997, Nexus was awarded the prestigious Banff Center for the Arts National Award, being cited for "constant and joyful commitment to the development of the next generation of musicians and audiences" and for being "superb musicians, with a following around the world."