Duke Performances

Anonymous 4

Friday, October 5, 2012 | 8:00 pm


The Duke University Chorale will perform David Lang’s brief piece, again (after ecclesiastes), as a prelude to Anonymous 4’s performance of love fail.

Since 1986, the four singers of the all-female vocal quartet Anonymous 4 have honed their unchallenged mastery of medieval sacred music. Yet they are also bold advocates for Colonial American folk songs and contemporary music, singing world premieres by the likes of Peter Maxwell Davies and John Tavener. In every case, they retain the “polish, dynamic suppleness, and warmth of tone” (NY Times) that have always been their hallmarks. These superb singers indulge ancient and modern muses alike in two complementary Duke Performances concerts.

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In this enchanting evening-length concert event, the peerless medieval singers of Anonymous 4 perform a commission from Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang, the natural heir of Steve Reich.

Lang, the cofounder of the deeply influential Bang on a Can collective, is widely celebrated for his rock-influenced post-minimalism and eloquent vocal writing. His new piece, love fail, is a narrative song cycle about doomed lovers Tristan and Isolde. The lyrics — drawn from sources both classical and contemporary — are breathed full of unearthly force by Anonymous 4, whose “impressive vocal blend, purity of tone, and distinctive individual voices” (NY Times) make this medieval story feel utterly present. In the tall, reverberant sanctuary of First Presbyterian, a world-class ensemble and commensurately great composer push polyphonic singing in intrepid new directions.

 

Anonymous 4 is a co-presentation of Duke Performances and the First Presbyterian Church of Durham.

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