In this special guest post, cellist Eugene Friesen shares the in’s and out’s of his musical life and what music truly means to him. Eugene will perform with gospel artist Theresa Thomason and our own Tim Brumfield on Saturday, February 13 at 7 p.m. at St. Gregory’s. Get tickets today!
By Eugene Friesen
“Don’t you wish you played the flute?” OK, yes, sometimes I do wish my instrument was a LITTLE smaller! But once I arrive at the concert hall, it’s all worth it – the minor skirmishes with the airlines, the rotating doors, the awkward schlepping – those small discomforts all disappear when I hear the first deep, rich tones of the cello filling a beautiful room like St. Gregory’s sanctuary.
My musical life has never been routine. Because of a possibly overactive sense of curiosity, I’ve wanted to know how so many parts of music work. How does Stravinsky get those amazing orchestral explosions? How do you make a student practice? How does jazz sound on a cello? Can I imitate the pulse of African drumming on my cello? Can I accompany a singer like a guitarist? Can I sing along with my cello? Can you make a string orchestra groove and thrum like a drum circle? Can the sound of a cello inspire and rise to the heights of a great organ?
And I love the nuts and bolts of a creative musical life. Of course recording, teaching, practicing, and composing, but also speaking with concert promoters, designing marketing materials, planning tours, keeping up a web presence; so many diverse aspects of a career in music keep an aliveness to the preparations for that incredible moment when the audience goes still and the music begins.
There’s something sacred about listening, and more powerful still when it’s an experience shared with others. Our imaginations are activated, our hearts are nourished, our hope is rekindled, but more: the keen listening of an audience creates a kind of magical canvas where the power of music and musicians is amplified and where inspiration can soar.
I can’t wait to play with Tim Brumfield and Theresa Thomason! Having long performing experience with each, on the road and in the studio, I can say that I love them as people and am always surprised, inspired, and delighted with the music that springs out of our being together.
Theresa Thomason is a true phenomenon of nature. What she can do with a song is astounding. No other performer can so consistently bring me to a tearful state of awe and exhilaration. You will hear her transcend the “Gospel” style as she ascends to pure energy and uplift. She knows no musical boundary; everything she sings has her stamp of authenticity and commitment.
Tim Brumfield is a rare genius of the keyboard. Not only is his classical technique flawless, but his instincts and intuition as an improvising soloist on the organ make him an international talent. Hearing him improvise on a great organ is like witnessing the birth of a grand symphony. Eloquent and fluent, Tim is also a brilliant collaborator and accompanist, a true joy to make music with.
Something significant that Theresa, Tim and I share is years of collaboration with Paul Winter, a legendary bandleader and visionary environmentalist. For decades, Paul has used music as a tool for bringing attention to endangered species and regions while removing walls between cultures and musical styles. Under his wing we’ve traveled the world, played in the world’s great Cathedrals, concert halls and natural places, and have learned volumes from the musicians, poets, and teachers we’ve encountered.
Our St. Gregory’s concert on February 13 at 7 PM will be a joyous reunion for us three, and a most welcome opportunity to expand the embrace of our music to Boca Raton. We’re very much looking forward to meeting the St. Gregory’s community, and grateful for the chance to share our music with you!