Created by Eugene Friesen and Rob Faust
About the Performance music
CeLLo MaN is a solo performance by cellist Eugene Friesen. As cellist
with the Paul Winter Consort, Eugene has performed all over the
world and sought inspiration for new music in the depths of the
Grand Canyon, in Siberia, eye-to-eye with whales and in great cathedrals,
concert halls and natural places. Some curriculum tie-ins CeLLo
MaN provides include:
Here is some additional information about specific topics that
CeLLo MaN covers:
About The Cello
The cello is a member of the string "family." Other members
of this family, the violin, viola and double bass, all share the
same evolution from ancient plucked instruments, like the harp and
the lute. Other "ancestors" of modern string instruments
are viola da gambas, string instruments with a soft, earthy tone
that are rested on the players' legs (gamba is an Italian word meaning
leg). The best string instruments are made primarily by hand as
they have been for centuries. The wood commonly used is pine or
spruce for the top face of the instrument, maple for the sides and
back, and ebony for the fingerboard. Bows are traditionally made
from pernambuco wood from the rainforests of South America. Though
the shape of modern string instruments is excellent for its acoustical
properties, the shape was originally chosen to honor the female
form, revered for its life-giving abilities.
Though Eugene Friesen was taught to play the cello by learning traditional
classical music - music written down by composers throughout history
- he also enjoys making up his own music, or improvising. Improvising
has a history as long as music itself, and it has only been in the
past 150 years that classically trained musicians in our culture
have not been encouraged to develop this skill. Before that time,
musicians were able to look at a rough sketch of a musical idea,
and improvise melodies and harmonies as modern jazz musicians do
The style of improvising Eugene Friesen is especially known for
is "free" improvising: starting to play with no plan or
discussion, and following the flow of music as his feelings and
In other countries of our world, improvising is much more common.
The guidelines vary widely from place to place for how much a musician
improvises his part in a group, or ensemble. Some time the performing
musician has only a few small decisions to make when playing his
part. At other times, as when she has a solo (that is, featured
prominently in a given section), she may be given complete freedom
to express herself. In most world musics there are times when musicians
play a part which they have learned exactly and play basically the
same each time, and there are times when the musicians are allowed
to improvise -- to make up their part while listening to the other
players and responding to the musical needs of the piece they're
Bela Bartok (1881-1945) was born and raised in Hungary. His boyhood
was filled with the distinctive instruments, melodies, harmonies
and rhythms of Hungarian folk music. Another important influence
on Bartok was gypsy music with its passion and sense of abandon.
As a young musician, Bartok would often jot down on music paper
the tunes he would hear in various Hungarian villages he visited.
These melodies, and the spirit of these melodies, give his compositions
a distinctive folk-like quality.
Man has hunted whales for centuries. Among the oldest species on
earth, over fifteen million years old, the numbers of whales in
the world have dwindled shockingly in the last fifty years. As the
result of loud international outcries to the mass destruction of
whales by huge whaling ships, whale watching is now a bigger industry
than whale killing. Still, the fate of these large, intelligent
mammals lies in the hands of the human community.
The recording of a humpback whale used in Eugene Friesen's performance
was made by underwater microphones (hydrophones) in warm waters
About The Blues
Without a doubt, the blues is America's most well-known musical
language and export. A unique musical blend of Africa, the Caribbean
and America, the blues was born in plantations throughout the South
and developed in New Orleans, Louisiana by slaves and the sons and
daughters of ex-slaves. With its supple rhythms, and distinctive
harmonic framework, the blues were the perfect medium for expressing
the suffering and injustice that its creators endured. The blues
have given birth to many other new forms as well including jazz,
gospel, rhythm and blues and rock and roll.
About Pablo Casals
One of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, Pablo Casals
came from very humble beginnings. Casals was born in an area of
northeastern Spain called Catalonia, and his first cello was a rough
toy-like instrument his father made for him. Casals never forgot
the village he grew up in, and even as a world-famous musician he
retained the values that formed him: simplicity, humility, honesty,
a love for people and animals and a reverence for nature. When Casals
witnessed the sufferings of his fellow Catalonians under the dictatorship
of Franco, he vowed never to return to his home in Spain while Franco
was in power. As a consequence of his convictions, he lived most
of his adult life in exile, and spent much of his energy on behalf
of those who suffered as a result of war and political oppression.
As a cellist, Pablo Casals discovered ways of playing the cello,
which he taught to many generations of young cellists. Because of
the physical ease with which he played, Casals increased the soloistic
potential of the cello tremendously. At the same time, his abilities
to play a piece of music simply and from the heart, cast new light
on musical performance in our time. Casals died in 1973 at the age
Like music, masks are used widely and differently in many, many
cultures. For example, in Bali tiger hunters wear a mask on the
back of the head since tigers never attack from the front. As a
device for theater, masks evolved from religious practices of ancient
Greece. The first masks were used to impersonate gods and were made
primarily of animal skins. As these ceremonies became more theatrical,
the masks became more elaborate.
One advantage of using masks in a performance is that they can
be seen from a distance because they are often larger than the human
head. To use a mask, an actor must be well trained; the actions
must be large and clear and must match the character of the mask.
The overall effect is transformational and unique among the theater
All the masks in CeLLo MaN are made by Robert Faust, the founder
of Faustwork Mask Theater. The masks are made in a variety of media:
leather, elastic and rubber.
AFTER THE PERFORMANCE
1. Discuss the unique creative quality of the performance. How was
it different from other concerts? Other theatrical events?
2. What kinds of feeling were created by the performance? Which
parts elicited joy? Sadness? Was there anything frightening?
3. What message was Eugene trying to convey by having various animals
play the cello?
4. Why would a musician be interested in whales? What do we have
in common with whales? What kind of pollution would be harmful to
whales? Would noise pollution be harmful?
5. What unusual body movements or manipulations did you see in
the show that deceived the eyes and perceptions of the audience?
6. One of CeLLo MaN's themes is transformation. What are some examples
of transformation that you've experienced?
7. Why is rhythm considered to be the most basic musical element?
8. With so much music already written, why would a musician want
to make up even more? Why do some composers let the players improvise
some sections of the music?
9. How would you describe the difference between improvising and
Writing letters to CeLLo MaN often elicits thoughtful responses
from students. Also, your ideas and impressions help us in our program
planning. We enjoy receiving letters and artwork generated by the
presentation seen by so many varied audiences. Suggestions, likes
and dislikes are welcome from young people and adults alike. Send
all correspondence to:
c/o Class Acts On Tour
PO BOX 653 Hampstead, MD 21074
SPREAD THE WORD!
Please invite parents, neighboring school representatives and members
of local print, radio and TV media to attend your CeLLo MaN performance.
Publicity and community involvement makes you look good and helps
us with future bookings.
"We should say to each of [our children]:
Do you know what you are?
You are a marvel. You are unique.
In all of the world there is no other child exactly like you.
In the millions of years that have passed
there has never been another child like you.
And look at your body - what a wonder it is!
your legs, your arms, your cunning fingers, the way you move!
You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven.
You have the capacity for anything.
Yes, you are a marvel.
And when you grow up, can you then
harm another who is, like you, a marvel?
You must cherish one another.
You must work - we all must work -
to make this world worthy of its children."
- Pablo Casals