For almost a decade now the a cappella quartet Anonymous 4 have regaled audiences with dramatic and heartfelt evocations of 12th- and 13th-century Europe. Thoroughly researched and meticulously transcribed, the music on a typical program--from chants to multivoiced songs to complex polyphony--is built around a theme that illuminates its historical background. But it's the exquisite, neatly tuned blending of four similar, high voices that distinguishes the Anonymous 4 from other early-music choirs. The foursome--Ruth Cunningham, Marsha Genensky, Susan Hellauer (who also serves as musicologist), and Johanna Rose--got together in the first place because they wanted to delve into a repertoire of pieces with small ranges written for men to sing in public during the Middle Ages. Now thanks to the ethereal, shimmering sound heard on their Harmonia Mundi CDs An English Ladymass and On Yoolis Night, they've sold plenty of records to the new-age market. For their only appearance in Chicago this season the quartet have put together a characteristically hefty and insightful program of music and poetry from medieval England. Most of the works, including a substantial Stabat Mater, describe Mary's agony as she witnessed Christ's death on the cross. Sunday, 3:30 PM, St. Wenceslaus Church, 3400 N. Monticello; 588-1135.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Hanya Chlala.