Two Cellists and Two Friends. Eugene Freisen and Crispin Campbell are delighted to announce two nights of music featuring their combined artistry on cello. The opening performance of this unique collaboration is Friday, June 20, at 8 p.m. at the Garden Theater in Frankfort. The second night is set for Saturday evening, June 21, at the Insideout Gallery in Traverse City. These performances will be a showcase of two fine cellists and the musical magic that has sprung from their creative friendship that first began in 2008.
Friesen, the Grammy award winning member of the Paul Winter Consort, and Campbell of the Neptune Quartet and the newly formed Triton Project, first collaborated in 2008 at the Dune Climb Concert in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The combination of Friesen’s haunting, nature-inspired compositions and Campbell’s blues and tango influenced playing create what has been called a “thundering evening of cello music.”
Both Freisen and Campbell are classically trained musicians are native Californians with far reaching careers.
As the Grammy award-winning cellist and composer with the Paul Winter Consort, Friesen has performed worldwide. His years with Paul Winter and his recent work with Trio Globo, (with Howard Levy and Glenn Velez) reveal a deep expressiveness and originality to his writing and playing. Friesen is an artist-in-residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, and on the faculty of the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He draws upon a lifetime of experience in music and theater to inspire and educate, from serious classics to serious fun.
His music has been inspired by trips deep into the Grand Canyon, travels in Brazil and Siberia, eye-to-eye contact with whales, and playing in great cathedrals and concert halls. Friesen’s openness to new experience, his revelations in nature, and his respect for—and ability to connect with an audience, are clearly conveyed in his live solo performance that moves from jazz to rock, from classics to comedy, from improvisation to composition, all with energy and ease. His talent has been described by the Jazz Times as: “Transcending all categories, Friesen’s music stirs the soul combining a passion and sense of bright moments that are nothing less than inspiring.”
Campbell’s musical style reflects his individuality. In a typical performance he makes seamless transitions from Bach to Zappa to Django, earning him the label: “A musician who defies categories.”
Campbell started playing cello at age nine, surviving disappointment that it wasn’t a trombone. (He later found out about an arrangement between the music teacher and his mother). Still, Campbell formed his first ‘group’ at age 12, playing bass parts on cello with a Dixieland combo because the had both the music and the trumpet player.
It was the Bartok 4th String Quartet that drew him into the string quartet world as a college student. The music of Ravel and Debussy, as well as the classics of Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart parted the waters for him. He joined an avant-garde string quartet in San Jose playing George Crumb’s “Black Angels” and a wide array of works by West Coast composers. Hooked on chamber music he got serious about getting better. He credits his teacher in Berkeley, Margaret Rowell, for finetuning his cello technique.
He left California to pursue more training with George Sopkin of the Fine Arts Quartet in Milwaukee. More chamber music followed, as well as orchestra playing with the Milwaukee Symphony and Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra. On his way to New York, he took a job teaching at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, and playing chamber music with the Interlochen String Quartet.
Subsequently friends got him playing with a Celtic music band—back to his roots of improvisation. What followed has been a progression to old-time music, Delta blues, tango, choro and jazz. His voice on the cello lives somewhere between the classical art song and Stephane Grapelli, with a dash of Frank Zappa. A lyrical, burnished sound and deep expression are what defines Campbell’s cello playing.
Currently, Campbell is focused on: the Triton Project, a new quartet with Nancy Stagnitta, Angelo Meli, and Glenn Wolff, where he balances his lyrical playing with hard edged tango and blues, His work as cello instructor at Interlochen Arts Academy and by his travels to Colombia where he is cello faculty with the Filarmonica Joven de Colombia, the national youth orchestra of that nation.
Tickets for both performance are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Kids are admitted free at the door only. Tickets for the Garden Theater performance on Friday, June 20, are available at: the Garden Theater, Frankfort Bookstore and the East Shore Market in Beulah. For tickets or more information, call the Garden Theater at 231-352-7561. Tickets for the Traverse City performance at Insideout Gallery on Saturday, June 21, are available at: Insideout Gallery, Oryana Food Cooperative or Brilliant Books. For tickets or more information call the Insideout Gallery at 231-929-3254.