The large room and high ceiling of the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center was filled with the echoing voices of Anonymous 4, last night, when the group performed in celebration of its 25th anniversary together.
Anonymous 4, presented by the Center for the Performing Arts, features the voices of Susan Hellauer, Ruth Cunningham, Jaqueline Horner-Kwiatek, and Marsha Genensky.
This four-part female a cappella group began singing Medieval chant music in the spring of 1986 and have been touring the world ever since. Nineteen albums later, the women of Anonymous 4 have sold over two million copies and performed throughout North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and now State College, according to its website.
The 75-minute concert featured chants from the Medieval and Pre-Renaissance genre, with a wide range of songs covering over a 1,000-year period. John Mark Rafacz, the editorial manager for the Center for Performing Arts, said the music was “hauntingly beautiful,” adding that he appreciated the large repertoire of the group.
“They are probably the best-known group of their kind,” Rafacz said. “They are the super stars of this kind of music.”
Along with the performance, the venue seemed to be the talk of the night. Known for its acoustics, the Pasquerilla Center was a perfect match for the classical voices of Anonymous 4.
“I was amazed,” Ellen Jarrett, a State College resident, said. “It sounded like a boy’s choir I heard in a cathedral in England that I went to.”
Not a stranger to Renaissance music, State College resident and CPA donor Jim Korner has been to many concerts of this genre and attributes the quality of the performance to both the Anonymous 4 and the location.
“I admire the musicianship and accuracy of their voices,” Korner said. “I am thankful that this performance was held here because of the acoustics. If it were held anywhere else it would not have been the same.”
The group mixed up its program selection, singing in four-part harmony, three-part harmony, duets, and solos. At the end of each song, the notes continued to travel throughout the room until it faded into complete silence.
Harrisburg resident Patricia Noel, who sponsored the event with her husband Stephen, described the women as “heavenly spirits” and was a fan prior to the event. In her opinion, the albums do not do the group’s live performance justice.
“The biggest difference was the space,” Noel said. “The finishing of the phrasing was so clean and just resounds; it hangs in the air. You’re not just hearing them sing, you’re hearing the echo go from their mouth to the back of the room and then it comes back to you.”
The group came out for four separate bows during the applause from the audience. After the third bow, laughter rippled through the crowd when the group treated them to a quick encore lasting about thirty seconds.
Anonymous 4 then finished its performance to a standing ovation.