• "I can't believe this is happening," said the Mountain Goats' John Darnielle of his collaboration with the vocal quartet Anonymous 4, which took place as part of the Ecstatic Music Festival at New York City's Merkin Concert Hall on March 24, 2012.
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    "I can't believe this is happening," said the Mountain Goats' John Darnielle of his collaboration with the vocal quartet Anonymous 4, which took place as part of the Ecstatic Music Festival at New York City's Merkin Concert Hall on March 24, 2012.
    David Andrako/courtesy of Merkin Concert Hall
  • Darnielle and the violinist/composer Owen Pallett, who created tonight's arrangements of Darnielle's songs as the song cycle Transcendental Youth.
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    Darnielle and the violinist/composer Owen Pallett, who created tonight's arrangements of Darnielle's songs as the song cycle Transcendental Youth.
    David Andrako/courtesy of Merkin Concert Hall
  • The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle at center stage.
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    The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle at center stage.
    David Andrako/courtesy of Merkin Concert Hall
  • Owen Pallett, John Darnielle and the members of Anonymous 4: Susan Hellauer, Marsha Genensky, Ruth Cunningham and Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek.
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    Owen Pallett, John Darnielle and the members of Anonymous 4: Susan Hellauer, Marsha Genensky, Ruth Cunningham and Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek.
    David Andrako/courtesy of Merkin Concert Hall

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Classics in Concert

The Ecstatic Music Festival: The Mountain Goats And Anonymous 4q2

PROGRAM:

Anonymous 4: Lection: Apocalypse 21:1-5

Anonymous 4: John Tavener, The Lord's Prayer

Anonymous 4: Motet: Salve virgo regia/Ave gloriosa mater/[DOMINO]

Anonymous 4: Motet: Gaude virgo nobilis/Verbum caro factum/ET VERITATE

Anonymous 4: Benedicamus domino: Belial vocatur

Anonymous 4: Conductus: Nicholai presulis

Anonymous 4: Song: Novus Annus Adiit

Anonymous 4: Trope: Gratulantes celebremus festum

Anonymous 4: Richard Einhorn, The Scientist

Anonymous 4 & John Darnielle: "Wayfaring Stranger"

Anonymous 4 & John Darnielle: "Parting Friends"

The Mountain Goats: "Tribe of the Horned Heart"

The Mountain Goats: "Bride"

The Mountain Goats: "In the Shadow of the Western Hills"

The Mountain Goats: "Slow West Vultures"

The Mountain Goats: "Hail St. Sebastian"

The Mountain Goats: "Your Belgian Things"

The Mountain Goats: "Cut Off Their Thumbs"

The Mountain Goats: "Moon Over Goldsboro"

The Mountain Goats: "1 John 4:16"

The Mountain Goats: "Enoch 18:14"

The Mountain Goats, Anonymous 4, and Owen Pallett: Transcendental Youth (arr. Owen Pallett): "Until I Am Whole"; "Night Light"; "Spent Gladiator II"; "In Memory Of Satan"; "White Cedar"; "Lakeside View Apartments Suite"; "Counterfeit Florida Pirates"

"I can't believe this is happening": that's what the Mountain Goats' John Darnielle said from the stage at the Ecstatic Music Festival at New York's Merkin Concert Hall in a concert matching him up with the vocal quartet Anonymous 4. This group are already legends within the classical music community for their crystal-pure, otherworldly voices and their immense artistic range, with a songbook that ranges from medieval European devotional music to American shape-note hymns to works by contemporary American and English composers; and in the first half of this concert, they shared some of that range.

From the stage, Darnielle mentioned that their 1993 album An English Ladymasswas a big inspiration for him — and when they sang together, first in the folk tunes "Wayfaring Stranger" and "Parting Friends," the result was stunning from the very start.

The nexus for this performance, however, was Transcendental Youth, a song cycle by the Mountain Goats' John Darnielle, presented here in a fascinating and colorful arrangement by violinist-composer Owen Pallett (aka Final Fantasy), who has worked extensively with bands like Arcade Fire and Grizzly Bear as well as releasing numerous projects of his own. The effect of Darnielle's powerful lyrics and plaintive voice, set against the luminous colors of Anonymous 4, was just magical.

Audio archive courtesy of Q2 Music and The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space.

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