Fresno Pacific University hosts nationally known cellist, pianist

Audiences can expect the unexpected when two nationally known musicians team up for a concert sponsored by Fresno Pacific University.

Philip Aaberg, piano, and Eugene Friesen, cello, will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, November 8, in First Presbyterian Church, 1540 M Street. They will be joined by special guests Milton Friesen, vocalist, and Laurell Huber, organist.

The concert will celebrate the inauguration of D. Merrill Ewert as president of FPU and benefit the university music department. A dessert reception will follow. Tickets are $25 and reservations are available by calling 559-453-2080.

Both Aaberg and Friesen are known for their skill at improvisation and love of showmanship. Aaberg’s music and career is as varied and expansive as the Montana landscape he calls home. He finds devoted listeners among rock, country, new age, blues, jazz and classical music fans, and his range of performances includes everything from solo piano concertos with the Boston Pops Orchestra to appearances with Peter Gabriel, Elvin Bishop and John Hiatt. In addition to several solo recordings, Aaberg has been a guest on more than 200 albums, from multi-million selling pop and country to experimental jazz. His album “Live From Montana” was nominated for a 2002 Grammy and his performance on PBS's “All-American Jazz” was nominated for an Emmy.

Eugene Friesen takes the cello beyond its traditional home in the classical realm. The Fresno native joined the Paul Winter Consort in 1978, winning Grammy Awards with the ensemble in 1994 and 1995, and recording many albums with Winter’s Living Music label. Friesen has also been featured on many other recordings, as well as concerts throughout Europe, Japan, Brazil, the United States and Canada.

Friesen 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 for thousands of students each year.

Milton Friesen is minister of music at Visalia United Methodist Church and has sung in operas with the Fresno Philharmonic, Tulare County Symphony, Sierra Chamber Opera and Pocket Opera in San Francisco. He and Eugene are the children of Anne and Dietrich Friesen. Dietrich Friesen was a music faculty at FPU from 1952-79.

Laurell Huber teaches piano and harpsichord at FPU and is an Associate of the American Guild of Organists. She has taught at California State University, Fresno, and served as organist at First Presbyterian Church, Fresno.