The Cherry Tree
Anonymous 4’s newest program, The Cherry Tree, is named for the miracle ballad of Joseph and Mary, the earliest text of which survives from a Coventry Play. of c. 1400 The Cherry Tree story persisted in many forms, making its way into medieval British carols of the mid-15th century, and into British and American traditional ballads.
In The Cherry Tree, we present medieval and traditional versions of the story, like Mervele noght iosep and As I lay up on a nyght, along with other much-loved medieval carols, like Nowell synge we, Make we joye, Synge we to this mery cumpane, and Hail Mary. We also perform the monophonic 15th-century ballad carols Newell: Tydings trewM, and Lullay my child: This ender nithgt, along with the well-known lullaby carol of the Nuns of Chester, Qui creavit celum. Along with these, we also sing traditional American Christmas songs with British roots -- A Virgin Unspotted, The Shepherd’s Star, Star in the East and William Billings’ joyous 4-part fuging tune Bethlehem.
We premiered The Cherry Tree during the 2008 holiday season (see concert listings) and recorded it for harmonia mundi usa in February 2009 for Fall 2009 release
RUTH RETURNS, WHILE JOHANNA “HARPS”
Welcome back to Anonymous 4 veteran, Ruth Cunningham, who has returned to the fold to sing in place of founding member Johanna Maria Rose. Also a founding member of the group, Ruth went her own way 10 years ago, to pursue studies in sound healing and improvisation, to record collaborative projects with other musicians as well as create her own solo programs. Ruth will be touring regularly and recording with Anonymous 4, as well as continuing her own work.
Meanwhile Johanna’s destiny is taking her to an exciting collaboration with Alyssa Reit and her ensemble, Singing Harp. Johanna will be wearing a number of hats for this wonderful troupe that brings fairy tales to life with music, theatre, and storytelling. Go to Johanna’s “Catching Up” feature for further details of her adventures
Looking ahead into the 2008-2009 season, A4 will perform and record The Cherry Tree, a new a cappella program interweaving two of the group’s favorite repertoires: medieval English carols and traditional American harmonies (you can hear us singing these repertoires on our CDs On Yoolis Night and American Angels). Next in line for take-off is our second “a cappella project with instruments:” Lost Girls will feature American folk songs about girls who face many kinds of challenges. A4 will also continue to tour Long Time Traveling with violin/mandolin master Darol Anger and guitar guru Scott Nygaard
When we first began to work on the music for our American Angels recording, we had been singing together for many years; but a couple of us were new to singing Anglo-American spiritual vocal music. It wasn’’t long before we were all deeply in love with the tunes we had chosen; and soon it became clear that our concert-going and CD-listening audience had fallen in love with them, as well. We simply had to sing more American tunes.
Because of that, and because of the great success of American Angels (80+ weeks on the Billboard Classical Top 25 and counting . . . ) we returned to the studio in October 2005 for another recording of American music.Gloryland is the diary of our second pilgrimage to the roots of Anglo-American vocal music. The journey has led us to more of the most beautiful religious ballads, folk songs, folk hymns, and gospel songs ever to be found. Each sung poem contains a world of meaning in itself: together they tell a story of love and loss, hope and redemption.
versions of the religious
ballads and folk songs on this program follow the performances of
singers from the Ozark and the Appalachian mountains. We sing shape
in the spare three-part harmonizations in which they first appear in
nineteenth-century tunebooks. Similarly, we have chosen to perform two
songs as they were originally set by their composers. The other hymns
gospel songs on Gloryland were arranged by members of
Click here for track list, sound clips and purchase info
American Angels is a #1 smash hit
It was a couple of years ago that we thought we'd explore some of the great musical heritage of our own country, and the idea of American Angels began to take shape. It ended up being one of our all-time favorite projects, and it sounds like a lot of people agree with us.
American Angels spent almost a year on the Billboard Classical Top Fifteen list since its release in March '04, peaking at #1.
Online giant Amazon.com lists American Angels among its "Top 100 Overall Customers' Favorites" (which includes all categories, including pop and rock), and in the "Top 10 Customer Favorites in Opera & Vocal" for 2004.
The reviews have been glowing (we blush to say) and, more important, they come from a wide range of reviewers -- classical, of course, but also folk, country and pop outlets.