Light & Shadow
Chants, Prayers and Improvisations
Ruth Cunningham, a founding member of the renowned vocal quartet Anonymous 4 has created a solo cd which includes chants from Western and Eastern traditions as well as Ruth’s own compositions and improvisations in a modal style.
In the program Light and Shadow there are two gregorian chants (Salve Regina and Alma Redemptoris Mater). Also included are several chants in Sanskrit. Ruth sings a number of improvisational settings of Latin Marian devotional texts including Ave maris stella accompanying herself on medieval harp. There is also one chant by Hildegard of Bingen (Viruts Sapeintie) and a medieval Cantiga (Virgen Madre Groriosa). Near the center of the program is a sound journey. This where Ruth’s training as a sound healer comes into play. The piece is completely improvised and in concert settings changes with every performance. Scattered throughout the program are six wonderfully evocative poem/prayers set to music by Ruth (for voice and improvised piano accompaniment). The poems were written by Ruth’s sister Elizabeth Cunningham (from her book Small Bird, Poems and Prayers). Though the texts and the music on this cd come from different times and places they all relate to each other on a deep level and the pieces have been arranged to reflect this. The entire concert becomes a musical journey through light and shadow.
Ruth Cunningham is a classically trained musician and a sound healing practitioner. She combines these skills to improvise music that connects people to the healing and spiritual power of music. She specializes in improvisational sacred music from varied spiritual traditions in both in liturgical and concert settings. Ruth was a member of the critically acclaimed women’s vocal quartet Anonymous 4 for ten years. With them, she performed in concerts and festivals throughout the United States, Europe and the Far East and made ten recordings— nine of medieval chant and polyphony for harmonia mundi and one, Voices of Light by contemporary composer Richard Einhorn, for Sony Classical. She rejoined Anonymous 4 in 2007 and will once again be touring and recording with them. In 2005 she released HARC: Inside Chants, a recording of multi-faith chants with Ana Hernandez. Among her other recordings are Sacred Light with harpist Diana Stork on the At Peace Music label and Ancient Beginnings which is part of the Open Ear Center’s music for healing series. She is featured on Invoking the Muse a cd with Frame Drummer Layne Redmond released on the SoundsTrue label. She has been part of the women’s ensemble of Early Music NY and participated in their cd Music of Medieval Love. She has also performed and recorded with the Renaissance vocal ensemble Pomerium.