Anonymous No More: Marsha Genensky Makes Triumphant Return to Scripps

Marsha Genensky ’80 brought her virtuosic singing ensemble, Anonymous 4, to the new Garrison Theater on January 31 during the group’s final tour of “American Angels.” To a packed audience, the group departed from their usual mix of Medieval-Renaissance music to perform Anglo-American spirituals, psalm settings and fuging tunes from New England, folk hymns and camp revival songs from the rural South, and gospel songs originating in Northeastern cities.

The performance brought several members of the audience to tears and nearly all to their feet for a standing ovation. Particularly inspiring was the group’s rendition of the gospel song “Shall We Gather at the River.”

The Anonymous 4 is renowned for their unusual vocal blend and their combination of musical, literary, and historical scholarship in their performances.Their first three albums all hit the classical Billboard chart, with sales exceeding one million units; their latest and fourth album, American Angels, was released earlier this year.

For their programs and recordings, the group researches the history, culture, and other contexts in which the music would have been sung. Genensky is one of the linguistic researchers who painstakingly delve into the pronunciation of early languages.”Deciphering what someone is trying to tell us about how Old French and Latin might have sounded in France in the Middle Ages is quite challenging,” Genensky explains.”Finding a way for all four of us to reproduce the desired sounds the same way is even worse!”

Now, the group is disbanding to explore new opportunities. “My colleagues are talking about a variety of things, ranging from pursuing solo careers to university-level teaching to radio announcing and voiceovers,” said Genensky.”I will be moving back to California this summer with my husband, Ernie Rideout, who will be editor-in-chief of Keyboard magazine. I hope to find some kind of balance between doing more singing and working in an interdisciplinary program at a university.”

Genensky definitely believes the foursome will make music together again.”Given our long history together, and the fact that our audiences still seem to be clamoring for more, I’m sure we will come together from time to time to do special projects—which may include recordings.”