For nearly 30 years the Anonymous 4 a cappella quartet, currently consisting of Ruth Cunningham, Marsha Genensky, Susan Hellauer, and Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, have enlightened audiences with exposure to a thousand years worth of repertoire. Recently they announced that 2015–16 would be their final season. For San Francisco their farewell tour will consist of two visits to present two different programs. These two concerts will be offered as a series option by San Francisco Performances (SFP). Both recitals will take place on Sundays, beginning at 7 p.m., in St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. Specific dates and program content will be as follows:
- October 18: The title of this program will be Anthology. It will provide a survey of the repertoire that Anonymous 4 accumulated over those 30 years. This will include selections of medieval chant and polyphony (the latter being the inspiration behind the group’s name). This was the music they read when they first got together in the spring of 1986. The program will also include their unique takes on the traditional repertoire, particularly songs that became popular in the United States. Finally, there will be examples of their performing works by contemporary composers.
- November 15: This program will be based on their most recent recording, whose full title is 1865: Songs of Hope and Home from the American Civil War. For this recording project they were joined by Bruce Molsky, who performed on fiddle, banjo, and guitar on different tracks, as well as adding his voice to their quartet. The album was released in time to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War. Molsky will join Anonymous 4 as guest artist for this concert. This will allow them to sing a five-part arrangement of Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times, Come Again No More.” Their more traditional four-part a cappella approach will be applied to the hymn “Abide with Me” and the timeless anti-war song “Tenting on the Old Camp Ground.” There will also be a performance of “The Faded Coat of Blue,” performed as an homage to the Carter Family.
Tickets for this two-concert series are now available for purchase; and the announcement for the full 2015–2016 season can be found on the SFP home page. The Anonymous 4 Farewell Concerts series has its own Web page from which subscriptions may be ordered. The Premium price is $130, and subscriptions are also selling for $90 for the upstairs general admission section in St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. The SFP home page also provides hyperlinks to PDF files of the Season Calendar and a “physical” subscription order form. Single tickets will go on sale August 3, at which time hyperlinks to the appropriate Web pages will be activated.