A4 News

In This Issue

New Release! Marie et Marion debuts in the Billboard Top 20

Anonymous 4's new cd, Marie et Marion: Motets and Chansons from 13th-Century France (hmu M et M cover807524) 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 our discography page.

Anthology 25: Our Anniversary Celebration Continues

25!When four young women gathered to sing through some medieval chant and polyphony in the spring of 1986, it was something that countless small groups of musicians do every day in a search for artistic adventure and autonomy that their normal musical pursuits can’t provide. Once every now and then, the people themselves and the unity of their musical intent just click . . . there’s a chemistry . . . and a long term musical relationship is born.

In partnership with each other, and with harmonia mundi usa and long-time producer Robina Young, we’ve been privileged to be able to record almost all of our concert programs. In Anthology 25, we’ve created a special concert to celebrate 25 years together. It contains one piece from each of our hmu recordings, as well as a work written for us by Richard Einhorn, the composer of Voices of Light, -- PLUS a brand new work - love fail - by the celebrated New York composer David Lang. We offer this as our anniversary gift to you, our listeners, who have helped to make it all possible.

We'll be touring with ANTHOLOGY 25 through 2012. Please check our concert listings on this site, and come help us celebrate.

Anonymous 4 Sheet Music -New publisher for pdfs on demand

After the recent demise of www.a-cappella.com, we've been engaged by www.sheetmusicplus.com to publish our editions for instant pdf download. We've sent them the materials for "The Cherry Tree" and we're told that they will go on sale soon, -- fall of 2012. All of the editions previously sold on a-cappella.com will appear shortly after, 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.

Secret Voices: Chant & Polyphony from The Las Huelgas Codex, c. 1300

Secret Voices coverAnonymous 4's newest program is a return to the heart of their favorite century, and to a repertoire that proved to one and all that medieval women could, and did, sing the most complex polyphony in the Gothic era.

This varied repertoire of 13th-century polyphony and sacred Latin song was collected for a convent of noble and aristocratic women, who were clearly used to having their own way. In spite of a rule forbidding the singing of polyphony by the women of their order, these sophisticated ladies sang the most beautiful, advanced and demanding music from all over Europe in the 13th century.

There are elegant French motets here, like the Benedicamus domino setting Claustrum pudicicie/Virgo viget/FLOS FILIUS, the original text of which describes pastoral love in the springtime; and the hybrid 4-voice conductus-motet O Maria virgo/O Maria maris stella/[IN VERITATE]. There are virtuoso conductus, like Ave maris stella and Mater patris et filia, with unpredictable rhythms and lively hockets. A playful Benedicamus domino à 3 is written in rondellus fashion -- like a catch or round -- typical of 13th-century British polyphony. There are also heartfelt laments, like the monophonic song O monialis conscio, a planctus written on the death of a beloved member of the sisterhood; and elegant duos with intertwining lines, like the sequences Verbum bonum et suave and In virgulto gracie.

We also get a glimpse into the musical dedication of the convent in a unique "solfeggio" exercise, Fa Fa Mi / Ut Re Mi, for the sister's music lessons, where they practiced singing their hexachords under the watchful ear of the music mistress.

The repertoire of the Codex Las Huelgas manuscript provides the proof that Anonymous 4, far from singing "men's music," are following in the footsteps of their much-older sisters who had no difficulty (except from their male monastic superiors) in finding and performing the most virtuosic, avant-garde polyphonic music of their time. It's time now for Anonymous 4 to bring them to life again.

Visit the Secret Voices discography page to hear track samples, read the program notes and reviews, and purchase on Amazon.com

We'll be touring with the Secret Voices cd program, and with a version featuring master instrumentalists Shira Kammen and Peter Maund. The music from Secret Voices is also included in our program Sisters in Spirit. Check our concert listings to find a performance near you.

Calling All Dawns - 2010 GRAMMY WINNER!

This past summer, the members of Anonymous 4 were very excited to be asked to participate in an ambitious recording project, Calling All Dawns. It consists of twelve songs in twelve different languages, all dealing with the themes of life, death and rebirth. Song cycle composer Christopher Tin is best known for his award-winning music for the video game Civilization IV, the title song of which, Baba Yetu, is featured on the CD.

Anonymous 4 recorded a beautiful Irish lament, Caoineadh for Christopher, with our own Irish girl Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek singing the solo, and we are joined by many distinguished artists, including Frederica Von Stade and the Soweto Gospel Choir, performing Christopher's other songs.

To hear sound clips, get more information, and to order the CD, please visit Christopher's website Christopher Tin

The Cherry Tree

Anonymous 4's newest program, The Cherry Tree, is named for the miracle ballad of Joseph and Mary, the earliest text of which survives from a Coventry Play. of c. 1400 The Cherry Tree story persisted in many forms, making its way into medieval British carols of the mid-15th century, and into British and American traditional ballads.

In The Cherry Tree, we present medieval and traditional versions of the story, like Mervele noght iosep and As I lay up on a nyght, along with other much-loved medieval carols, like Nowell synge we, Make we joye, Synge we to this mery cumpane, and Hail Mary. We also perform the monophonic 15th-century ballad carols Newell: Tydings trew, and Lullay my child: This ender nithgt, along with the well-known lullaby carol of the Nuns of Chester, Qui creavit celum. Along with these, we also sing traditional American Christmas songs with British roots -- A Virgin Unspotted, The Shepherd's Star, Star in the East and William Billings' joyous 4-part fuging tune Bethlehem.

We premiered The Cherry Tree in December 2008 and look forward to touring with it during the 2009 holiday season (see concert listings). We're recording it for a Fall 2010 release on harmonia mundi usa.

American Angels Octavo Editions

ANONYMOUS 4 MUSIC is very pleased to announce that a-cappella.com has partnered with Hal Leonard, Inc. to publish octavo collections of the music from our chart-topping cd American Angels (hmu 907326). We've had numerous requests for sheet music from American Angels, and now we're happy to say that it is available.

You can see and purchase these editions at the a-cappella.com website.

Octavo editions of selected medieval pieces from Legends of St. Nicholas, Miracles of Sant'Iago and On Yoolis Night (published by earthsongs) are also available through a-cappella.com.

Gloryland - A4's recording of American Favorites is a long-running hit

When we first began to work on the music for our American Angels recording, we had been singing together for many years; but a couple of us were new to singing Anglo-American spiritual vocal music. It wasn't long before we were all deeply in love with the tunes we had chosen; and soon it became clear that our concert-going and CD-listening audience had fallen in love with them, as well. We simply had to sing more American tunes.

Because of that, and because of the great success of American Angels (80+ weeks on the Billboard Classical Top 25 and counting . . . ) we  returned to the studio in October 2005 for another recording of American music.

Gloryland is the diary of our second pilgrimage to the roots of Anglo-American vocal music. The journey has led us to more of the most beautiful religious ballads, folk songs, folk hymns, and gospel songs ever to be found. Each sung poem contains a world of meaning in itself: together they tell a story of love and loss, hope and redemption.

Our versions of the religious ballads and folk songs on this program follow the performances of traditional singers from the Ozark and the Appalachian mountains. We sing shape note tunes in the spare three-part harmonizations in which they first appear in the nineteenth-century tunebooks. Similarly, we have chosen to perform two gospel songs as they were originally set by their composers. The other hymns and gospel songs on Gloryland were arranged by members of Anonymous 4.

For this recording, we collaborated with two very wonderful musicians: Darol Anger  (fiddle, guitar, mandocello) and Mike Marshall  (mandolin, mandocello, guitar). Darol and Mike are super-instrumentalists who slip seamlessly over the borders of bluegrass, newgrass, classical and jazz.

Click here for track list, sound clips and purchase info

American Angels is a #1 smash hit

It was a couple of years ago that we thought we'd explore some of the great musical heritage of our own country, and the idea of American Angels began to take shape. It ended up being one of our all-time favorite projects, and it sounds like a lot of people agree with us.

American Angels spent almost a year on the Billboard Classical Top Fifteen list since its release in March '04, peaking at #1.

Online giant Amazon.com lists American Angels among its "Top 100 Overall Customers' Favorites" (which includes all categories, including pop and rock), and in the "Top 10 Customer Favorites in Opera & Vocal" for 2004.

The reviews have been glowing (we blush to say) and, more important, they come from a wide range of reviewers -- classical, of course, but also folk, country and pop outlets.

Several of these reviews appear on our American Angels discography page, along with a tracklist, notes and soundclips.

Jacqui has a Web Site

Jacqui now has a presence on the Web.  Check out her beautiful web site  for concert info and more.

News From Ruth

Ruth has just released two new solo cds: Light and Shadow: Chants, Prayers and Improvisations and Harpmodes: Journey for Voice and Harp. Both are available for purchase at her website www.ruthcunningham.com/recordings or at cdbaby.com

Ruth and collaborator Ana Hernandez have created a new CD, "HARC Inside Chants." The CD includes settings of short sacred chants (close to the style of Indian kirtan) from the Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Jewish traditions. In many of the pieces traditional and newly composed chants serve as ground for improvised counterpoint. Accompanied by piano, medieval harp, tongue drum, flute, and guitar, "HARC: Inside Chants" is a meditative experience crafted to move the heart to its innate state of openness, compassion and peace. This cd is available at cd baby and can also be downloaded from itunes.

Ruth's CD with  harpist Diana Stork,  Sacred Light, is an album of healing music. Sacred Light is a collection of original compositions of musical prayers and visionary improvisations. Visit the At Peace Music site to read more about Sacred Light and listen to sound clips or visit Amazon.com to purchase a copy.

Voices of Light Now Available on Video & DVD

Anonymous 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: Marie et Marion 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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