Anonymous 4 appeared at an apparently sold out Dana Auditorium on the campus of Guilford College on a Wednesday night as part of the Eastern Music Festival. After a phenomenally successful run of singing medieval music, the group gave their "farewell" concert in 2004. Since then they have arisen with Jacqueline Horner, a bonnie lass from Monkstown in Northern Ireland, replacing Ruth Cunningham. The others are Marsha Genensky, Susan Hellauer, and Johanna Maria Rose. The sound is as it always has been: pure, serene and refined.
For this program, they were joined by two accomplished and eclectic instrumentalists: Darol Anger, alternating between mandolin and violin, and Scott Nygaard, playing acoustic guitar.
Their program was basically from their latest CD produced by Harmonia Mundi, "Gloryland." Within the framework of mostly American tradition music, it was a varied program by way of different groupings, some a cappella quartet, some quartet with instruments, some just instrumental, a couple of duets or solos, etc. The music itself, from gospel hymns, shape-note songs, Appalachian ballads, bluegrass, old time fiddle tunes, and even a hint of blues, embodied ecstasy, longing, grief, hope and other human emotions that are expressed in music in ways they cannot be expressed in mere words.
From "I'm on my journey home" to "Green pastures," the program moved along with no sheet music to distract from the production, superb musicianship, and some humor to introduce performers and a few of the selections. Even with an intermission, it seemed to be over almost too soon. On the way out I said to my partner that I felt I had been to a very refined "Grand Ole Opry." and there is no criticism in that. But for my taste, I would have preferred at least the first half of the program to have included some of the medieval charms of Hildegard, the troubadours, and the Benedictine Monks of the late Middle Ages.