Eric Friesen is a veteran broadcaster, writer, and speaker on music and culture. He has spent much of his life as a network music host and producer for CBC Radio and Minnesota Public Radio (NPR), and as a network executive for both organizations. For CBC, he hosted programs such as “Studio Sparks”, “In Performance”, and “Onstage at Glenn Gould Studio”, as well as the celebrated documentary series, “The Concerto According to Pinchas” (violinist Pinchas Zukerman), “The Concerto According to Manny” (pianist Emmanuel Ax) and “Peter and the Symphony” (Toronto Symphony music director Peter Oundjian). Over the course of his broadcasting career, he has interviewed almost every major figure in music today (including Yo-Yo Ma, Renée Fleming, Lyle Lovett, Chris Botti, k d lang, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, and many more).
Since leaving the CBC at the end of 2008, Friesen has been busy serving a wide variety of major cultural organizations in Canada. He has also recently completed six podcast documentaries called “Eric Friesen Presents” for www.artsalive.ca, marking the 40th anniversary of the National Arts Centre Orchestra. In July 2009, he interviewed novelist Ian McEwan on the key role of music in his novels for Angela Hewitt’s Trasimeno Music Festival in Umbria. Excerpts of this interview appeared on CBC Radio’s “The Sunday Edition”, as well as NUVO magazine and Queen’s Quarterly, for whom he is a regular contributor. This spring, he was nominated for a National Magazine Award for his column in Queen’s Quarterly about Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss.
This summer Friesen will inaugurate a new summer series of classical concerts at the Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque, Ontario: Tuesdays in Studio “S” with Eric Friesen. He will also be making guest appearances at the Music and Beyond Festival in Ottawa in early July, at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival in late July and at the Waterside Summer Series on Amherst Island.
In addition to his love of music and its role in our culture, Friesen has a particular interest in the intersection of music and the other arts, particularly fiction and non-fiction. He has written about this extensively and in July he will interview Anglo-Indian novelist Vikram Seth in Italy about the music in his novels. Friesen serves as director and advisor to a number of cultural and arts organizations, including Roy Thomson Hall/Masey Hall, the Honens International Piano Competition, and the Kingston WritersFest. Friesen and his wife, artist Susan Friesen, live on Amherst Island near Kingston, Ontario.