by Irene Sharp

The video "CELLOMAN" with Eugene Friesen, cello, and Rob Vance, masks, provides an entertaining and provocative experience for the listener. It endeavors to make music more accessible for everyone using the intriguing combination of music, nature, and masks.

In the first performance episode, Eugene Friesen improvises on a theme of Bela Bartok, and explores five elements of music: Rhythm, Melody, Harmony, Sound Color, and Texture. He performs for a live audience and illustrates these elements with explanatory musical examples.

In another episode Friesen talks about the difficulties involved in practicing for excellence in both music study and homework. He explains that having a passion for a subject helps one get started despite personal reluctance. He uses a mask to illustrate his dislike for practicing when he doesn't feel like working. The masks are also used to pretend different animals are playing the cello. A squirrel mask will produce a very different type of music from a bear mask.

Mr. Friesen obviously loves music and the cello in particular. He talks about vibrations of the acoustic cello and then demonstrates wonderfully on the electric cello. The video shows live images of whales in the ocean, combined with cello sounds and whale sounds in an unusual form of communication. We are also treated to a performance with an 1/8th size "ant" cello with the Mask Man in an ant costume.

There is a small segment about excessive noise in the world today, and how hard it is to really concentrate because of the lack of silence. The G-major Bach Prelude is used to illustrate how wonderful it is to simply listen to music. During the performance though, the Mask Man disturbingly pirouettes around the stage in a female dance costume and tries to elicit applause from the audience.

Next there is an "Homage to Casals" segment, in which Friesen, while wearing the mask of an old man, plays a variant of the Bach Air for the G string. Finally Friesen becomes a one-man band performing Bach to Rock-Cello Funk, which is lively, entertaining and fun with plenty of different percussion sounds!

Cello Man is an innovative video suited for everyone about music, masks, animals and communication. For more information, see Eugene Friesen's website:

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