Visiting Artist SeriesAnonymous 4, Shira Kammen and Peter Maund
Sponsored by the W. Ford Schumann ’50 Performing Arts Endowment, the Williams College Department of Music presents the ensemble Anonymous 4 on Friday, October 21 at 8 p.m. in a performance titled Secret Voices: The Sisters of Las Huelgas. The concert is held in Thompson Memorial Chapel on the Williams Campus. This free event is open to the public. There is a master class for Williams students open for the public beginning at 4 p.m., also in Thompson Memorial Chapel.
Renowned for their unearthly vocal blend and virtuosic ensemble singing, the four singers of Anonymous 4 combine musical, literary, and historical scholarship with contemporary performance intuition as they create ingeniously designed programs, interweaving music with poetry and narrative.
The women of Anonymous 4 revisit their favorite era with repertoire from the Codex Las Huelgas. Spanning the entire 13th century – from virtuosic motets and conductus to heartfelt laments, plainchants and sacred songs – of aristocratic Castilian women who (in spite of a rule forbidding Cistercian nuns from singing polyphony) sang some of the most beautiful and demanding music of Gothic-era Europe. For this program, Anonymous 4 are joined by two early music specialists – Shira Kammen on vielle, a medieval bowed instrument of the violin family, and percussionist Peter Maund.
The ensemble has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, including Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” A&E’s “Breakfast With the Arts,” and NPR’s “Weekend Edition.” Anonymous 4’s award-winning recordings have attained unprecedented popularity, rising to the top of Billboard’s classical chart, and selling almost 1.5 million copies worldwide.
RUTH CUNNINGHAM was raised in Millbrook, NY, but has spent most of her adult life in Manhattan. She received a B. Mus. in Performance of Early Music from the New England Conservatory of Music and is certified as a cross-cultural music and healing practitioner. She specializes in improvisational sacred music from varied spiritual traditions in both liturgical and concert settings. Her new solo program Light and Shadow, on which she accompanies herself on medieval harp, Renaissance flute, recorder, and piano, encompasses a mixture of music, including traditional chants from Western and Eastern traditions as well as her own compositions and improvisations. She also teaches classes and workshops on using the voice and music as tools for healing and transformation, Ruth was a member of Anonymous 4 until 1998; she rejoined the group in 2007. She has also performed with The Vox Vocal Ensemble, Early Music New York, Pomerium, and many other ensembles. For more information visit her website: www.ruthcunningham.com.
MARSHA GENENSKY grew up in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains, only two miles from the Pacific Ocean. After earning a B.A. in music and folklore from Scripps College, she traveled east to pursue an M.A. in folklore and folklife at the University of Pennsylvania before moving to New York and helping to found Anonymous 4. Marsha handles Anonymous 4’s American music research; she acted as music director for the group’s recordings American Angels and Gloryland, and contributed the American tunes for their most recent holiday release, The Cherry Tree. Historical language research is another of her longtime, favorite tasks for the ensemble. Since moving back to California in 2004, she has become a regular at Bay Area shape note sings; she also teaches performance classes on medieval music and on Anglo-American sacred and secular song for Stanford Continuing Studies.
SUSAN HELLAUER is a native of the beautiful Bronx, New York, where she grew up rooting for the Yankees. While earning a B.A. in music as a trumpet player from Queens College (City University of New York), an increasing fascination with medieval and Renaissance vocal music led her to convert to singing, and to pursue advanced degrees in musicology from Queens College and Columbia University. Susan handles Anonymous 4’s medieval music research, and is an adjunct Assistant Professor of Music at Queens College, CUNY, where she directs the Collegium Musicum. She has appeared as a vocal soloist with the Harp Consort, Parthenia, and the 2006 U.S. Fés Festival of World Sacred Music. Susan leads Chant Camp workshops throughout the U.S., plays Baroque guitar and clawhammer banjo, and is proud to be a volunteer EMT with the Nyack Community Ambulance Corps.
JACQUELINE HORNER-KWIATEK comes from a little village called Monkstown, in Northern Ireland. After getting a joint honors degree in Music and English from Queens University Belfast, she moved to London and became a professional singer known for her willingness to sing all types of music, from baroque and classical opera and oratorio to the extremes of new music. (Her roles in contemporary opera included an 8-year-old girl, Jackie Kennedy and a sheep.) She then moved to New York, thanks to winning a Green Card in the U.S. visa lottery program. In addition to her recording and touring activities with Anonymous 4, she has a busy career as a soloist, appearing with such distinguished ensembles as the Washington Bach Consort, Carmel Bach Festival and Albany Symphony, singing everything from Bach to Babbitt. Her own recital program, “A Musical Journey,” features an eclectic mix of songs from the three places she has called home – Ireland, England, and the U.S., Jacqueline can also be found teaching voice and ensemble vocal technique in Manhattan and beyond and spending time with her new husband! For more information visit her website: www.jacquelinehorner.com.
Multi-instrumentalist and occasional vocalist Shira Kammen has spent well over half her life exploring the worlds of early and traditional music. A member for many years of the early music Ensembles Alcatraz and Project Ars Nova, and Medieval Strings, she has also worked with Sequentia, Hesperion XX, the Boston Camerata, the Balkan group Kitka, the King’s Noyse, the Newberry and Folger Consorts, the Oregon, California and San Francisco Shakespeare Festivals, and is the founder of Class V Music, an ensemble dedicated to providing music on river rafting trips. She has performed and taught in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Israel, Morocco, Latvia, Russia and Japan, and on the Colorado, Rogue, Green, Grande Ronde, East Carson and Klamath Rivers.
Shira happily collaborated with singer/storyteller John Fleagle for fifteen years, and performs now with several groups: a medieval ensemble, Fortune’s Wheel: a new music group, Ephemeros; an eclectic ethnic band, Panacea; an English Country Dance band, Roguery,the early music ensembles Cançoniér and In Bocca al Lupo, as well as frequent collaborations with performers such as storyteller/harpist Patrick Ball, medieval music experts Margriet Tindemans and Anne Azema, and in many theatrical and dance productions. She has worked with students in many different settings, among them teaching summer music workshops in the woods, coaching students of early music at Yale University, Case Western, the University of Oregon at Eugene, and working at specialized seminars at the Fondazione Cini in Venice, Italy and the Scuola Cantorum Basiliensis in Switzerland.
She has played on several television and movie soundtracks, including ‘O’, a modern high school-setting of Othello and ‘’The Nativity Story’, and has accompanied many diverse artists in recording projects, among them singers Azam Ali and Joanna Newsom. Some of her original music can be heard in an independent film about fans of the work of JRR Tolkien. The strangest place Shira has played is in the elephant pit of the Jerusalem Zoo. She has recently taken courses in Taiko drumming and voiceover acting.
A native of San Francisco, Peter Maund studied percussion at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and ethnomusicology at the University of California, Berkeley. He has performed with numerous early and contemporary music ensembles throughout North America, the United Kingdom, Europe and Israel. He was a founding member of Ensemble Alcatraz and Alasdair Fraser’s Skyedance and has performed and recorded with Chanticleer, Davka, The Harp Consort, Hesperion XX, Kitka, Musica Pacifica and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, among others. Described by The Glasgow Herald as “…the most considerate and imaginative of percussionists,” he appears on over fifty CDs. He has also served on the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley.