BackBeat Percussion Quartet (Damien Harron, Simone Rebello, Cormac Byrne and Mark Wagstaff) is an award-winning British Percussion Quartet. They have performed prolifically throughout the UK and have travelled to countries such as Zimbabwe, USA, Switzerland, and Japan to entertain audiences with their imaginative programmes that resist categorisation. The group blends many potent strands: art music, folk music, choreography, music theatre via an often explosive virtuosity. Their concerts showcase a huge variety of percussion instruments from every corner of the world, often presented and combined in unconventional and untraditional ways. All the members of the group are multidimensional instrumentalists who are committed to exploring percussion playing as an activity that traverses many boundaries of genre.
The quartet has appeared in such prestigious venues as the Royal Festival Hall (London) and Weill Hall, Carnegie Hall (New York), Symphony Hall (Birmingham), Bridgewater Hall (Manchester). Recent international trips have included a fifth tour of Japan and a sell-out appearance at the Cayman Arts Festival in the Caribbean. 2005 saw the release of a third CD in collaboration with the Japanese percussionist Shonosuke Okura and a collaboration with Tabla Maestro Sanju Sahai that the group is hoping to develop in the future, alongside explorations with other artists from non-Western traditions. BackBeat's other recording activities have included two highly successful CDs and numerous television and radio broadcasts. Highlights have included a televised performance of their BBC Prom debut in 2002 and a concert broadcast in its entirety on Japanese national TV. In 2007 the group collaborated with mezzo - soprano Lore Lixemberg for the spnm 'Riot' tour which included a broadcast on BBC Radio 3. The group also performed to a global audience in 1999 in a live broadcast from Westminster Abbey in the presence of HM the Queen. As well as composing much of their own repertoire, BackBeat has commissioned many leading composers to write for them. Through its performance activities and highly commended education programme it is firmly committed to raising the profile of percussion playing as an artistic medium. BackBeat is a chamber music ensemble-in-residence at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester.