From the recording In Harmony

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7. JAKOB’S AWAKENING – music by Eugene Friesen

Eugene Friesen, cello and voice; Elizabeth Rogers, voice.

In learning about the origins of the Harmonist Society I was struck by recurring accounts of mystical experiences. Founder George Rapp, who himself experienced moments of divine inspiration, was influenced by Jakob Boehme (1575-1624). A shoemaker by trade, Boehme had a profound influence on later philosophical movements such as German idealism and German Romanticism. Hegel described Boehme as "the first German philosopher." Boehme’s visions portrayed a unity of the cosmos that was original in Christian thought, and completely heretical. His writing and insights influenced the development of The Harmonist Society and The Society of Friends, along with dozens of Pietist communities, Emanuel Swedenborg, and much more.

As a musician, I’ve experienced moments of release where the cello seemed to be playing itself, when I seemed to be listening to the music rather than playing it. I’ve come to regard these experiences as mystical in their way, and this piece, “Jakob’s Awakening,” first appeared fully formed as a free improvisation. Recorded in the Harmonist wine cellar in Harmony, PA.