A member of the Paul Winter Consort since 1978 and a frequent performer with Living Music, Eugene Friesen has created a unique voice among the cellists of the world. In his hands, the cello has been liberated from its traditional home in the classical realm, emerging as an exciting instrument with immense powers of free expression.
Drawing on a childhood filled with the great masterworks of Western music as well as the influences of hymn, ethnic and popular music, Eugene uses cello and voice to create new music which is accessible yet personal.
It was in Fresno in 1973 that Friesen first met Paul Winter at one of Winter’s music workshops. So impressed was Winter with this young cellist that five years later Friesen, by then a graduate of the Yale School of Music, was invited to join the Consort. Since then, Friesen has been touring and recording with the Paul Winter Consort, with whom he won Grammy Awards in 1994 and 1995, and has recorded many albums with Winter’s Living Music label.
The solo album Eugene Friesen has recorded with Living Music is ARMS AROUND YOU.
“ARMS AROUND YOU surges with relentless energy, good taste, and some of the best cello playing in any context. The nine selections also exploit his talents as a composer, vocalist, lyricist and band leader. [..] ‘Arms Around You’ shows Friesen to be a superior performer able to synthesize a vast array of influences and ideas into an entertaining, musically satisfying whole.” (TOWER PULSE!)
He has also recorded the duet album NEW FRIEND with Paul Halley.
“A most passionate and inspirational offering. Cellist Eugene Friesen and pianist Paul Halley show how improvised material can be honed into structurally lucid yet gloriously immediate works. Friesenís frenzied bowing and soaring melodies, combined with Halleyís mellifluous tone and subtle harmonic shifts will send the listener into a state of musical rapture.” (THE WASHINGTON POST)
Other Living Music recordings featuring Eugene Friesen’s unique voice include the Grammy-winning albums SPANISH ANGEL and PRAYER FOR THE WILD THINGS, as well as WINTERSONG, SOLSTICE LIVE, CONCERT FOR THE EARTH, THE MAN WHO PLANTED TREES and Living Music’s latest releases, Grammy-nominated JOURNEY WITH THE SUN and EVERY DAY IS A NEW LIFE.
Friesen’s gift for the responsive flow of improvisatory music has also been featured in concerts throughout Europe, Japan, Brazil, the United States and Canada, and on many recordings. His ‘Earth Requiem: Stories of Hope’ was premiered at Southern Connecticut State University in 1991, his ‘Grasslands’, a celebration of the endangered grasslands of the world, was premiered by the Consort with the Winfield-Salina Symphony and Chorus in Kansas in 1997, and ‘Carl Sandburg’s Prairie’ was premiered by the Consort with the Winfield-Salina Symphony and Chorus in Kansas in 2001.
Audiences of all ages are fascinated by Eugene’s use of improvisation in his concerts. A guest artist and lecturer on improvisation at colleges, universities and international symposia, Eugene loves encouraging young people to make their own music in their own way. As the Cello Man, he performs with cello, electric cello, masks, costumes and tapes in a dramatic one-man show about the cello, the environment, music and transformation for thousands of school students each year.
“Never before have I seen a musician play the cello with such fury and virtuosity. A whirlwind…incredible.” (El Heraldo de Aragon, Spain)