Renowned for their unearthly vocal blend and virtuosic ensemble singing, the four women of Anonymous 4 combine historical scholarship with contemporary performance intuition to create their magical sound. Celebrating their 25th anniversary during the 2011-12 season, the ensemble has performed on major concert series and at festivals throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Enchanted both by their live performances and by their twenty-one 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. Albums since have received numerous accolades including France’s prestigious Diapason d’Or, Classic CD’s Disc of the Year, Classic FM’s Early Music Recording of the Year, several Gramophone Editor’s Choice awards, Italy’s Antonio Vivaldi Award, and Le Monde de la Musique’s Choc award. 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, entitled Four Centuries of Chant, met great acclaim upon its release in 2009. Fall 2010 marked the release of The Cherry Tree – their first new recording in four years, and their 18th original recording for harmonia mundi usa. With the miracle ballad The Cherry Tree Carol as inspiration, the album features an American version of the carol, a few of its medieval carol ancestors, and other medieval British carols and British-rooted American songs.
Anonymous 4 has long enjoyed collaborations with contemporary composers. “Anthology 25,” a concert program celebrating the group’s 25th anniversary season (2011-2012), features a new work by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang. Anonymous 4 appears regularly as the voice of Joan of Arc in Voices of Light, an oratorio with silent film, composed by Richard Einhorn, with performances under Marin Alsop (Vienna Symphony; Concordia Orchestra at Lincoln Center), and under Lucinda Carver (Hong Kong Philharmonic). In 2000-01, 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 Sir Peter Maxwell Davies to write A Carnival of Kings, premiered and recorded on their 2003 release, Wolcum Yule (which also included works by John Tavener, Geoffrey Burgon and Richard Rodney Bennett). Other new works for Anonymous 4 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.