Grammy-winning cellist Eugene Friesen to fuse styles

imageEugene Friesen, a Grammy-winning cellist and composer, will start SUNY Oswego’s Ke-Nekt Chamber Music Series season with a 7:30 p.m. performance Wednesday, Oct. 11, in the Sheldon Hall ballroom.

The Eugene Friesen Ensemble’s music—flavored with classical, folk and rock—will also feature the stylings of longtime Lyle Lovett pianist Tim Ray and renowned frame drummer Glen Velez.

An associate professor at the famed Berklee School of Music, Friesen is also known for his work with the Paul Winter Consort, with whom he earned Grammy awards in 1995 and 2006, and Trio Globo.

Friesen’s experimenting with music has helped build his appeal. In 2005, he recorded “Sono Miho” live in the Miho Museum against the mountainous backdrop of Kyoto, Japan.

“It was amazing to move from room to room with my cello and feel the different qualities and sounds of each space, the change in acoustics, light,” Friesen recalled. “While the music conveys the spirit of the rooms, I feel the recording reflects the experience of being in the place.”

Before his excursion into the mountains of Japan, Friesen explored the open spaces of Winfield, Kansas. His 1997 concert—complete with full orchestra, dancers, choir, narrator and an expansive stage—took place in the middle of a prairie. According to accounts, Friesen entertained the 5,000 people in attendance while lawn mowers and ultralight planes hummed in the distance.

From the mountains to the prairies, Friesen strives to capture the essence of nature-tech music, combining natural sounds with technology to create a landscape of auditory surrealism. In addition, his Celloman family shows introduce puppets and masks into inventive performances
geared specifically for the young and the young at heart.

“Transcending all categories, Friesen’s music stirs the soul with a passion and sense of ‘bright moments’ that are nothing less than inspiring,” Jazz Times reported.

Notables such as Yo-Yo Ma and Dave Brubeck have also praised Friesen’s creative genius.

Friesen’s musical companions for the SUNY Oswego performance bring their own accomplished resumes. Ray has toured the jazz circuit leading his own band or supporting major artists for nearly 30 years, playing piano with Lovett for about half that time. Velez, also a Grammy-winning artist and performer with the Paul Winter Consort, is regarded as a seminal figure in the history of the frame drum.

For the campus show, the ensemble will feature musical guest oboist and SUNY Oswego faculty member Aaron Reece.

Tickets for the Eugene Friesen Ensemble cost $15 ($10 for seniors and students, $7 for SUNY Oswego students).

For more information or reservations, call Tyler box office at 312-2141, visit or e-mail

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(Posted: Sep 13, 2006)