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In This Issue

New Release: "Three Decades of Anonymous 4" sums it up, with love and memories

3 decades

harmonia mundi usa asked each of us to pick our favorite tracks--tracks that meant something personal-- from all our hmu cds, for this retrospective compilation. Few things we've ever attempted have been more difficult.

In "Three Decades of Anonymous 4," the current members of the "4" have each selected and introduced our most memorable tracks. This project has brought back to us so many fond and lifelong memories, and we hope you will enjoy this journey back in time with us. 

Although the repertoire spans the 12th to the 20th centuries, from sacred plainchant to American folk hymns, to our ears and hearts they flow on comfortably, like the thirty-year river we've been privileged to travel together.

We'll let Amazon Editorial Reviews tell you more:

After 30 amazing years of sold-out concerts on three continents, Billboard chart topping recordings and over 2 million CDs sold, the vocal quartet Anonymous 4 decided to call it quits. To celebrate their amazingly successful career, harmonia mundi asked the group to select some of the singers favorite tracks, taken from among their nineteen complete albums, for one final release. The result is a fascinating and comprehensive collection that contains music from across multiple centuries and musical styles, all sung with the signature clarity and perfect intonation that made Anonymous 4 famous. Offered at a special price, Three Decades of Anonymous 4 will appeal not only to the group's existing fans, but also win over a whole new generation of listeners.

"1865" Completes Anonymous 4's Americana Trilogy

Anonymous 4’s last Americana recording for harmonia mundi -- and our final brand-new touring program – commemorates the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War.

1865 focuses on the personal experience of men, women, and children from the North and from the South, toward the end of the Civil War and in its immediate aftermath -- as told in songs originally written for the stage and for the parlor, and in songs and instrumental tunes from the hills and back roads of America.   

Many of the songs in 1865 were published between 1861 and 1865; others first appeared in print earlier, but were sung constantly during the war years, perhaps in an effort to bring to mind the familiar and the good. Yet other songs and instrumental tunes are not datable; by the year 1865, they had already been passed down from generation to generation without the aid of the printed page. 

Joining Anonymous 4 for this project is renowned old-time fiddler, master banjo and guitar player, and heavenly vocalist, Bruce Molsky. 

Anonymous 4 and Bruce have put our own stamp on the songs in 1865: sounds include 5-part harmonies on the Stephen Foster gem Hard Times, Come Again No More; Home, Sweet Home and Listen to the Mocking Bird accompanied by the banjo; an homage to the Carter Family on The Faded Coat of Blue; the high lonesome sound on folk songs like Bright Sunny South and Brother Green; Bruce’s inimitable fiddle and banjo playing on instrumental tunes Camp Chase, Rebel Raid and Polly Put the Kettle On, and the four-part a cappella singing of Anonymous 4 on the hymn Abide with Me and the timeless anti-war song Tenting on the Old Camp Ground. 

1865 will be released on January 13, 2015, but is now available for “First Listen” on NPR and CBC websites. Check our concerts page for performances of 1865 in your area during 2015, and our Discography page for tracklist, samples, liner notes, reviews and purchase links. For more information about Bruce Molsky, please visit www.brucemolsky.com.


Final season will include international touring and the third album in the “American Trilogy” for harmonia mundi.

After nearly 30 years of international touring and over 20 recordings on the harmonia mundi label (with over two million albums sold), Anonymous 4 will make the 2015-16 season its last. Singers Ruth Cunningham, Marsha Genensky, Susan Hellauer, and Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, as well as founding member Johanna Maria Rose, will continue individual pursuits begun when the group transitioned to being a part-time ensemble in 2004, and embark on new endeavors.

When we got together one day in the spring of 1986 to read through some medieval chant and polyphony, we had absolutely no idea that we would be propelled onto a journey spanning over a thousand years of music and many years of our lives. At the end of that day, what we did know was this: we wanted to sing together more, and we wanted to try working as a leaderless group, a consensus organization.

The arguing started almost immediately! When we were about to sing in public for the first time, we had to come up with a name for ourselves. Susan proposed Anonymous 4, a couple of us said NO!!!!, but the name stuck, and the rest is history... Thanks to a lot of hard work, the adventuresome programming of the first concert presenters and radio show hosts who were willing to take us on (among them Louise Basbas/Music Before 1800; John Schaefer/ New Sounds; Bob Davis/Millennium of Music), the readiness of Robina Young from harmonia mundi to take a risk with us... and then a lot more hard work from the members of Anonymous 4, the wonderful folks at harmonia mundi, our longtime friends at Alliance Artist Management and Unfinished Side Productions (with whom we worked at Herbert Barrett Management before AAM was formed), and the many concert, festival, and radio presenters in North America and beyond who have hosted us over the years.

Now, more than 20 recordings, 49 states (we still haven’t made it to South Dakota!), over three dozen other countries, and nearly 30 years later, it’s almost time for us to bring Anonymous 4’s work to a close. Each of us looks forward to new projects and adventures, some already in motion, others as yet to be discovered. Meanwhile, we’re terribly excited about the programs we’ll be recording and touring together during the remainder of our time together.

We feel honored to know that Anonymous 4’s recordings and performances have been enjoyed by so many loyal fans, and that our music has helped certain of our listeners in deeply meaningful ways. We’re also thrilled that our work has inspired the formation of other new ensembles, both amateur and professional; we’re eager to watch as your paths unfold.

Read more about it, including quotes from some of our longtime friends and collaborators, at the Alliance Artist Management website.

Hear more about it in an NPR interview with member Marsha Genensky.

With love,
                                                                                                                          – Anonymous 4

David Lang's 'love fail' featuring Anonymous 4

When we approached Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang about writing for Anonymous 4, we came equipped with a few medieval ideas. It was Susan's dog-eared copy of the Lais of Marie de France (translated by Joan Ferrante and Robert Hanning) that lit a spark, and the result was love fail. 

The composer surprised us by assigning us to play a variety of percussion instruments and a conch shell in this work, used sparingly but very effectively in some of the movements.
love fail cover

We recorded love fail for the Cantaloupe label, and we'll let them tell you more about it:

Composed by David Lang, love fail is a meditation on the timelessness of love that weaves together details from the story of Tristan and Isolde with more modern sources. The recording also spotlights the singular and magical sound of the vocal quartet Anonymous 4, whose longstanding commitment to medieval music and historical scholarship has been acclaimed worldwide 
The music and libretto pull together narratives of love from such sources as Lydia Davis, Marie de France, Gottfried von Strassburg, Béroul, Thomas of Britain and Richard Wagner.

Reviewing the BAM performance for the New York Times, Anthony Tommasini wrote: “It was Mr. Lang’s music, and the ethereal, pure-toned singing of Anonymous 4, that claimed me in the first section of the piece, which begins with the line ‘he was a blessed man.’”

In his liner notes, David Lang poses the question: “It’s ‘the greatest love story ever!’ But why? Of course, there is the excitement, drama, love, lust, shame, death, dragons. I think the real reason is because the love of Tristan and Isolde begins by accident -- they drink a love potion. They didn’t mean to drink it, and they didn’t mean to fall in love. They drink and --BAM!--it starts. It’s almost a laboratory experiment into what love might be like without any of the complications of how real love begins or works -- without the excitement, embarrassment, frustration, guilt or competition present in the courtships of ordinary people."

Visit our discography page for more details, the tracklist and where to buy.

'The Drop That Contained the Sea' - new album from 2-time Grammy®-winning composer Christopher Tin

Anonymous 4 is proud to be featured on one of the tracks (Seirenes - “Sirens”) of this beDrop coverautiful
and deeply expressive new cycle of songs from the wonderful Christopher Tin.

In the composer's words:

The Drop That Contained the Sea is a collection of commissioned works, reimagined and arranged for chorus and orchestra. Each of the 10 pieces is sung in a different language, exploring a different vocal tradition. Each piece also deals with water in a different form, arranged in the order that water flows through the world: melting snow, mountain streams, rivers, the ocean, and so forth. And like my last album Calling All Dawns, the end of the album flows back into the beginning, reflecting the endless nature of the water cycle.
Visit our discography page for more information, tracklist and purchase links.

"Marie and et Marion" Debuts on Billboard Top 20

Anonymous 4's new cd, Marie et Marion: Motets and Chansons from 13th-Century France (hmu 807524) has jumped right into the Billboard Top 20, entering at No. 14.
The 13th-century French motet, in 2, 3 or 4 voices, built upon a pre-existing tenor, was the musical and notational avant-garde vehicle of its time, showcasing the growing capabilities of rhythmic notation, as it rapidly developed in complexity and flexibility throughout the century.

Marie et Marion includes Latin and French motets devoted to Mary, and French motets of earthly love for Marion, Marot, Marotele, and their amorous sisters. We also sing trouvère and popular love songs so often quoted in these motets.

We'll be on tour with Marie et Marion during the 2014-2015 concert season. Check our concert listings page for a venue near you.

Find the liner notes, tracklist, reviews and purchase links at ourdiscography page.

Anonymous 4 Sheet Music -New publisher for pdfs on demand

Anonymous 4 has been engaged by www.sheetmusicplus.com to publish our editions for instant pdf download.  All of the editions previously sold on a-cappella.com will appear shortly, along with many more.

We're looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship sheetmusicplus, who already carry Anonymous 4's octavo editions from Hal Leonard and earthsongs.

Please don't hesitate to write to us (email@anonymous4.com) if there is something of our repertoire you'd like to see available in sheetmusicplus.com.

Voices of Light Now Available on Video & DVD

vol dvdAnonymous 4 has been involved in some intriguing projects and collaborations, but there is really nothing like Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light, an oratorio written to accompany the 1928 classic silent film, "The Passion of Joan of Arc" (dir. Carl Dreyer). The combination of image, text and music is powerful, and we've never known it to leave an audience anything other than deeply moved.

 Einhorn's music has been available on CD (featuring A4) from Sony since 1997, but for the complete experience, you'd have to catch a live performance. Now, at last, the film and Voices of Light are available together. The DVD version even contains additional material not available on the CD or video.  Click here for ordering info. 


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Discography:   Three Decades of Anonymous 4 1865 Marie et Marion love fail The Drop That Contained the Sea Secret Voices
The Cherry Tree Four Centuries of Chant Gloryland Noel The Origin of Fire American Angels
Wolcum Yule Darkness into Light la bele marie The Second Circle 1000: A Mass for the End of Time Legends of St. Nicholas
A Lammas Ladymass 11,000 Virgins Christmas Music from Medieval Hungary Miracles of Sant'Iago The Lily & The Lamb Love's Illusion
On Yoolis Night An English Ladymass Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light A Portrait of Anonymous 4
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