Eric Friesen

Eric Friesen

 

Eric Friesen

Amherst, Canada

Eric Friesen is a lifelong broadcaster, who thinks of himself as “a pilgrim of creative change and renewal.” As a broadcaster, writer, and leader, he has spent his life developing new programs and creating new ideas, and has built a successful career in broadcasting, both in Canada and in the United States.

Eric’s career in radio broadcasting actually began in the early 60s in his hometown of Altona, Manitoba. “It was here, as a child, that I became infected with the stealthy magic of radio,” says Eric, “with the signature voices of evening radio hosts from clear channel stations all across North America.”   In 1963, Eric worked his first on-air nightshift at a local radio station. He joined the CBC as a relief announcer in June 1972, in Ottawa. “It was a dazzling world music, information programming, the arts, and like Walt Whitman I wanted to embrace it all,” he says. Over the next 12 years, Eric hosted various programs including, All in a Day, Radio Noon, The Passing Show, and ultimately The Eric Friesen Show.

After a stint in CBC management, where he was responsible for Ideas, one of CBC Radio’s signature programs, he took a position with American Public Radio in St. Paul, Minnesota, as the executive vice-president for programming. Eventually, Eric returned to the microphone with Minnesota Public Radio, where he hosted an afternoon drive show called TheMusic Room, and the Minnesota Orchestra’s “live” Friday night broadcasts to the nation.
 

In 1997, CBC Radio invited Eric back to Canada to be the network concert host. Based in Toronto for seven years, he spent weekday evenings hosting In Performance, and on Sundays, Onstage from the Glenn Gould Studio. For the past four years, Eric was the host of Studio Sparks, which was broadcast out of CBC’s Ottawa studios. Even though Studio Sparks has come to an end, he has created two major documentary series for CBC Radio: The Concerto According to Pinchas (10 one-hour programs on the great violin concertos with violinist Pinchas Zukerman) and The Concerto According to Manny (10 one-hour programs with pianist Emmanuel Ax on the great piano concertos).

Eric is extremely active with his pro-bono work. He is a frequent presence at concert venues throughout Ontario, introducing concerts, giving pre-concert talks, and doing interviews with the artists. He is currently the artistic advisor to Queens Performing Arts at Queens University in Kingston, and writes regularly for Queens Quarterly magazine. Eric has been a regular contributor to arts organizations throughout his career, and in the past has served as board director for several organizations, including the Roy Thomson Hall/Massey Hall, Toronto; Conrad Grebel University College; Minnesota Opera; American Composer’s Forum;and ExMachina, a baroque opera company in St. Paul, Minnesota.

 In 2008 he was the 11th recipient of the University of Waterloo Faculty of Arts Alumni Achievement Award which recognizes alumni who have made outstanding contributions to their professional field and in community and public service.

Outside of music, Eric loves to read and garden.  Along with his wife Susan, they are working on creating a natural garden at their home on Amherst Island, near Kingston, where they are restoring the natural landscape of limestone outcroppings which terrace down to Lake Ontario.
 

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