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Renowned for their unearthly vocal blend and virtuosic ensemble singing, the four women of ANONYMOUS 4 (Ruth Cunningham, Marsha Genensky, Susan Hellauer, Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek) combine historical scholarship with contemporary performance intuition to create their magical sound. The ensemble has performed on major concert series and at festivals throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, including appearances at Tanglewood, Wolftrap, BBC Proms, Edinburgh Festival, and the Brisbane Biennial. Enchanted both by their live performances and by their 18 recordings of medieval, contemporary, and American music, Anonymous 4’s listeners have bought nearly two million copies of the group’s albums on the harmonia mundi label.
Anonymous 4’s debut recording for harmonia mundi USA, An English Ladymass, was named 1992 Classical Disc of the Year by CD Review. On Yoolis Night received France’s prestigious Diapason d’Or, and The Lily and the Lamb was Classic CD’s Disc of the Year for 1996. Legends of St. Nicholas was Classic FM’s 1999 Early Music Recording of the Year, and 1000: A Mass for the End of Time was a Gramophone Editor’s Choice for 2000. The Second Circle (love songs of the 14th-century Florentine, Francesco Landini) received Italy’s Antonio Vivaldi Award for 2001. Darkness into Light received an Editor’s Choice Award from Gramophone in 2001; La bele marie was a Gramophone Editor’s Choice for 2002 and received Le Monde de la Musique’s Choc award. Wolcum Yule garnered ClassicsToday.com’s highest rating (10/10) and was in Billboard’s Classical Top Ten. The group’s 2004 release, American Angels (18th-20th century folk psalmody, hymnody, and gospel songs), spent 76 weeks on Billboard’s Top Classical Chart and received a perfect 10/10 from ClassicsToday.com. Their 2005 release, The Origin of Fire (sequel to their 1997 best-seller, 11,000 Virgins, music of Hildegard of Bingen) was named in Amazon.com’s Top 25 Classical CDs for 2005. For two consecutive years (2004 and 2005), Anonymous 4 was voted one of Billboard’s Top Classical Artists of the Year. Gloryland (the 2006 sequel to American Angels), featuring Darol Anger on fiddles and mandolins and Mike Marshall on mandolins and guitar, was a Gramophone Editor’s Choice for 2006. An anthology of the group’s favorite chants from 11th-14th century Europe is scheduled for a fall 2009 release.
In the realm of contemporary music, Anonymous 4 tours as the voice of Joan of Arc in Voices of Light, an oratorio with silent film, composed by Richard Einhorn. Anonymous 4 has performed the work under Marin Alsop, with the Vienna Symphony and with Concordia Orchestra at Lincoln Center, as well as with the Hong Kong Philharmonic under Lucinda Carver. In 2000-2001, Anonymous 4 and the Chilingirian String Quartet premiered John Tavener’s newly commissioned work, The Bridegroom, included in their 2002 release, Darkness into Light. The ensemble commissioned Peter Maxwell Davies to write A Carnival of Kings, premiered and recorded on their 2003 release, Wolcum Yule, which also included works by Geoffrey Burgon and Richard Rodney Bennett. Other new works include Steve Reich’s Know What is Above You, and Richard Einhorn’s A Carnival of Miracles, both commissioned by WNYC Radio.
Anonymous 4 has appeared on a wide range of radio and television programs, including NPR’s All Things Considered, Performance Today, and Weekend Edition, MPR’s St. Paul Sunday, WETA’s Millennium of Music, Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, and ZDF’s Ersteklassich! (Germany). The ensemble has been featured on A&E’s Breakfast with the Arts, CBS Sunday Morning, and Australian ABC’s Access All Areas, as well as on Discovery Health Channel and Fox News Channel.