Saturday, November 29, 2003
in 1986, Anonymous 4 named itself after the unknown author of one of the most
important musical treatises from the Middle Ages. Anonymous 4 may be the most successful and well-traveled of
any early music/vocal ensemble in history, performing nearly 1000 concerts on
four continents. Their 14
recordings, virtually all of which topped the Billboard Classical Charts, have
sold over 1,000,000 copies worldwide to the highest praise from critics and
major recording publications. The
ensemble has performed in every major city in North America and throughout
Europe, collaborated with great luminaries such as Toni Morrison, and premiered
works by Sir John Tavener, Steve Reich, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, and Richard
Einhorn. Additionally, they have
appeared on many 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 “All Things Considered,” just to
name a few. The ensemble announced
in February 2003 that, after seventeen years, the 2003-2004 season will be its
last as a full-time touring and recording entity.
Although the members will continue to collaborate in the future on
special projects and appearances, Marsha Genensky, Johanna Maria Rose, Susan
Hellauer, and Jacqueline Horner have collectively decided to take this
opportunity to pursue their individual interests.
virtuoso and imaginative continuo-player, Andrew Lawrence-King is recognized as
one of the world’s leading performers of early music. A creative and inspiring conductor who directs from one of
several continuo instruments (including harp, organ, harpsichord &
psaltery), he has led baroque operas and oratorios at La Scala, Milan; Sydney
Opera House; Casals Hall, Tokyo; Berlin Philharmonie; Vienna Konzerthaus; New
York’s Carnegie Hall; and Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes.
His musical career began as Head Chorister at the Cathedral and Parish
Church of St Peter Port Guernsey, whence he won an Organ Scholarship to
Cambridge, completing his studies at the London Early Music Centre.
He rapidly established himself as a versatile continuo-player with
Europe's foremost specialist ensembles and in 1988 founded and
co-directed the continuo-group Tragicomedia.
He joined Jordi Savall's Hesperion XX as harp soloist, and was appointed
Professor of Harp and Continuo at the Akademie für Alte Musik, Bremen.
In 1994 Andrew Lawrence-King formed his own ensemble, The Harp Consort,
and was immediately signed by Deutsche Harmonia Mundi for a seven-year series of
solo and ensemble recordings. He is
principal guest director of the Florentine baroque ensemble, L’Homme Armé,
specializing in early baroque opera & oratorio.
Andrew Lawrence-King now divides his time between solo recitals, tours
with The Harp Consort, and appearances as guest director for orchestras, choirs
and baroque operas in Europe, Scandinavia and the Americas.
4 is represented exclusively by Herbert Barrett Management and records
exclusively for Harmonia Mundi USA.
Yule: Celtic and British Songs and
of the symbols and practices of the Celtic midwinter celebration known as Yule
(probably several thousand years older than the festival of Christmas) have come
down to us in a curious amalgamation of mythologies, pagan and Christian.
Yule marks the time of the winter solstice, around 21 December -- the
longest and darkest night of the year, when the coming of spring seems a faint
hope. To fortify that hope, the ancient Celts, who dwelt throughout
Britain, held a celebration of lights, to give power to the returning sun.
They brought evergreens into their homes to symbolize life at the time
when most of nature seemed dead and dark, and they gave and received gifts to
represent wisdom gained from looking inward during the long winter nights.
These symbols, and many other elements of ancient pagan ceremonies, were
absorbed into the early Christian festivals, blending into a multi-layered
expression of the universal cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
traditional music associated with the midwinter festival is also interwoven with
threads of pre-Christian ritual and folk-customs.
The concerns of an ancient people dependent upon the whims of nature for
food and shelter are expressed not only in imagery of the natural world, but
even in the form of the songs themselves. The
word “carol” (from Old French “carole”) originally meant a dance
performed in a circle, the dancers also singing a verse with a recurring
refrain. This was probably derived
from ancient ritual dances with call-and-response chanting, used at magical
ceremonies throughout the cycle of the year.
Even by the Middle Ages, the carol was not limited to the winter season;
only much later did the term take on its present meaning of a song for the
the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, collectors began to rescue from
obscurity many folk tunes, songs and carols.
In Edinburgh, poet Allan Ramsay (1686-1758) collected and published
Scottish tunes, and Edward Bunting (1773-1843), a classically-trained musician
in Belfast, produced three volumes of Irish airs. Crucial figures in the folk song revival were Davies Gilbert
(1767-1839) and William Sandys (1792-1874), both gentleman scholars from
Cornwall, an area of Britain that had remained comparatively isolated until the
shift from an agricultural society to an industrial one, and whose folk customs
and songs remained more intact than in other areas of the country.
Although the carols published by Gilbert and Sandys were relatively few
in number, these collections were seminal because they were the first to include
both tunes and words. Some of our best-loved Christmas carols were preserved
through their efforts, and their momentum was carried forward by the early
twentieth-century collectors of folk song, Cecil Sharp and Ralph Vaughan
Williams, as well as later collectors working throughout the British Isles.
this program, we have interwoven traditional Christmas songs with contemporary
carols (ranging from the early twentieth century to the beginning of the
twenty-first), showing that the need never dies to express the most basic human
fears and joys, and to keep that expression always fresh with the turning of
Program Note by Johanna Maria Rose of Anonymous 4
notes, following, by Jay Weitz, Consulting Database Specialist for music, OCLC
Online Computer Library Center, Dublin, Ohio.
He is a contributing performing arts critic for the weekly alternative
newspaper “Alive: Music, Art, and
Culture in Columbus” (http://www.columbusalive.com).
Tavener (born 1944)
Lamb (composed 1982)
modern composers have devoted as much of their efforts to religious music as Sir
John Tavener and been so publicly revered in the process.
Born in London in 1944, Tavener was appointed organist of Saint John’s
Presbyterian Church in Kensington in 1961.
The next year he entered the Royal Academy of Music, studying piano with
the one-named pianist Solomon and composition with Lennox Berkeley.
Many of his early works bore the influence of late Stravinsky, but
Tavener also began in the mid-1960s to experiment with drones and other
non-developmental techniques.” Several
works caught the attention of The Beatles, on whose Apple label his 1969
“Celtic Requiem” was released. By
the time Tavener joined the Russian Orthodox Church in 1977, he was heavily into
musical stasis and ruminations on mortality.
Tavener claims that when he came across William
Blake’s poem “The Lamb,” he immediately heard its music and composed the
piece in a single afternoon. He
dedicated it to his nephew Simon for his third birthday in 1982. “The Lamb” features alternations of three textures:
unison, lush harmony, and contrary motion.
Rodney Bennett (born 1936)
Richard Rodney Bennett is a child prodigy with a range of influences that is as
wide as that of his eclectic output. Supposedly,
he was writing music almost before he was able to read.
By the time he was eighteen years old, he had already written his first
three string quartets. He studied briefly with Lennox Berkeley at the Royal Academy
of Music, and then between 1957 and 1959 with Pierre Boulez in Paris, absorbing
both the traditional and the modern. Also
in the 1950s, he began a relationship with the world of jazz that, during the
1990s, blossomed into a parallel career as a cabaret-style singer-pianist.
Through it all, however, he remains probably best known for his more than
fifty film scores, including “Far from the Madding Crowd” (1967),
“Nicholas and Alexandra” (1971), the Academy Award-nominated “Murder on
the Orient Express” (1974), “Enchanted April” (1992), and “Four Weddings
and a Funeral” (1994).
is the second of the “Two Lullabies” Bennett wrote in 1963 for three
unaccompanied women’s voices. Using
the same two verses of John Wedderburn’s old Scots poem from 1578 that
Benjamin Britten immortalized in his “Ceremony of Carols,” Bennett offers a
tantalizingly chromatic setting of the classic Scottish tune.
Maxwell Davies (born 1934)
Calendar of Kings (composed 2002)
of the genre in which he is writing, Peter Maxwell Davies displays a consistency
both of refined technique and of historical reference in his musical works.
The composer, conductor, and educator often appropriates pre-existing
material, especially plainchant, that has both compositional and symbolic
significance. In the past three
decades, however, two factors in particular have shaped Davies’ music: the Orkney Islands of Northern Scotland, where he settled in
1971; and the fiction, poems, and reportage of that region’s George Mackay
is Mackay Brown’s poetic account of the three Magi traveling to the birth of
Christ that provides the text for Davies’ “A Calendar of Kings.”
It was commissioned by Anonymous 4 with funds from Abendmusik:
Lincoln Fine Arts Series, and was premiered by Anonymous 4 on 2002
November 30 at the First Plymouth Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Transplanting the story from the sands of the Middle East to the rugged
terrain of Orkney, Mackay Brown employs images that suggest a months-long
journey from winter into spring. Davies
parallels this with a tonal journey that begins and ends in F minor but arrives
at several unexpected landmarks along the way.
Working with four female voices, Davies also varies the texture of the
voices together as well as the range of each individual voice.
Burgon (born 1941)
God, and Yet a Man? (composed 1984)
a jazz trumpeter was Geoffrey Burgon’s initial musical dream, but after he
began studies at the Guildhall School of Music in London in 1960, he caught the
composing bug. Studying composition
first with Peter Wishart and later with Lennox Berkeley, Burgon eventually
abandoned the trumpet and settled into a successful career writing for
television and film, including “Doctor Who” (1975), Monty Python’s “Life
of Brian,” (1979), “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” (1979), “Brideshead
Revisited” (1981), and “Turtle Diary” (1985).
He also contributed numerous scores for such dance companies as London
Contemporary Dance Theatre and Ballet Rambert.
Most prolific, however, is Burgon’s output for voices, including by
some accounts, more song cycles than any other composer of recent memory.
“A God, and Yet a Man?” was composed in 1984 for mixed chorus and first
appeared in the “Chester Music Carol Book.”
growith the holy (compiled circa 1518)
THAT Henry VIII, King of England; he of the legendary six wives.
In his time, Henry was known not only for his dubious spousal skills and
his disrespect for church authority, but also for his profound interest in
music. During Hnery’s long reign
from 1509 to 1547, music played a huge part in court life, with performances of
one kind or another as part of virtually every important royal ceremony.
By the time of his death, Henry had gathered together an ensemble of some
58 musicians and owned a sizable collection of instruments.
The king himself is known to have been quite the singer and played lute,
various keyboards, and a variety of winds.
of the music Henry wrote is lost, including two masses that are documented in
contemporary accounts. The vast
majority of the surviving music (including “Grene growith the holy”)
appeared in the so-called “Henry VIII Manuscript,” a collection compiled
around 1518. Its name derives from
the presence in it of many of his works (twenty vocal and thirteen instrumental
pieces), and he is not believed to have actually owned the book.
Works by several other English (John Lloyd, Robert Fayrfax, and Henry’s
court musician William Cornysh) and continental composers (Heinrich Isaac, Hayne
van Ghizeghem, Jacques Barbireau, and Loyset Compère) also appear.
It has often been pointed out that the survival of Henry’s music has
more to do with his celebrity than with his skill, but “Grene growith the
holy” is widely recognized as an achievement in its own right.
New Year Carol (composed 1933-1935)
by many to be the most important English composer since Henry Purcell, Benjamin
Britten is best remembered for his operas (“Peter Grimes,” “Albert
Herring,” “Billy Budd”), choral pieces (“A Ceremony of Carols,” “War
Requiem”), and works for children (“Noye’s Fludde,” “Children’s
Crusade”). But in the 1930s, none of these were even twinkles in
Britten’s eye. By the time he was
twelve, Britten was studying with Frank Bridge, but it was in 1930 that he
received a scholarship to attend the Royal College of Music in London.
Studying piano with Arthur Benjamin and Harold Samuel and composition
with John Ireland, Britten was earning a living through music within a few
changed significantly in May 1935 when Britten began working in the General Post
Office Film Unit, scoring documentaries. This
work brought him into the intellectual circle of W.H. Auden, Christopher
Isherwood, and London’s Group Theatre, for which Britten wrote much incidental
music. It also inspired his
political and sexual awakening, immersed as he was in the leftist, pacifist,
agnostic, and (for its time) almost openly gay world of the arts.
was right around this time (1933-1935) that Britten was writing a series of
little choral pieces for his brother Robert and the boys choir of Clive House
School, Prestatyn. As a tribute to
the choir’s regular rehearsal schedule, Britten called the collection
“Friday Afternoons, op. 7.” His
career is peppered with major works that include children’s choruses, from the
“Spring Symphony” (1949) to “Children’s Crusade” (1969), but this is
among the earliest for treble voices. “A
New Year Carol” is Britten’s gentle setting of Walter de la Mare’s poem.
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