When Augustana Arts executive director Donald Tallman heard that renowned vocal quartet Anonymous 4 would be making its final cross-country tour, he jumped at the chance to book the group for a farewell Denver concert, which will be held tonight at Augustana Lutheran Church, 5000 East Alameda Avenue. The foursome specializes in medieval music, and it performed a collection of thirteenth-century love songs while in town for the first time, two years ago. This experience will be quite different: The program, "American Angels," is a compilation of early-American music and includes reconstructed pieces from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as gospel hymns that are still being sung. Regardless of what century the music is from, Tallman promises a superb performance from group members Marsha Genensky, Susan Hellauer, Jacqueline Horner and Johanna Maria Rose. "Their interpretation of any musical style is absolutely exquisite," he says. "They have a purity of tone and vocal color that is unsurpassed."
But behind this heavenly sound is the intensive scholarship required to re-create old music. Hellauer explains that for "American Angels," the group meticulously searched out the earliest versions of the music available. That meant deciphering different types of notations, such as the shape-note music used in the early South. Historical context was also considered: "The music is organized along the lines of a nineteenth-century camp revival meeting," says Hellauer. Though the singers' research guarantees a rich experience for the audience, it is exhausting to the musicians, which probably explains why they are retiring after seventeen years of touring and recording.
Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performance, $10 to $30, are available at the door or by calling 303-388-4678. -- Jonelle Wilkinson Seitz
Carnivalesque tries some boo-lesque
Halloween entertainment will get a whole new old look this weekend and next when the lovely ladies of Burlesque As It Was and the fetishistic Crispy Family Carnival team up for Carnivalesque, a spirited vaudevillian creepy peep show at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street. And local burlesque maven Michelle Baldwin says it wasn't much of a challenge to program an event with Halloween in mind, because it was just plain fun: "Halloween is so bloody and gory and silly, and you get a juxtaposition of burlesque -- this pretty, sexy art -- crossed with a freak show, so you end up having these pretty girls coming out and doing strange things," she says. Fresh from performing for the national Tease-O-Rama Burlesque Convention 2003 at Hollywood's Henry Fonda Music Box Theatre, Burlesque As It Was will present a "House of Wax" tribute to vintage B horror films (some features include the Go-Go Ghost Girl, Annie Amputee, the Little Sewn Up Doll who can't quite keep it together and, of course, the horrific Film-Strip), while the Crispies dance on glass and eat fire. Shows are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through October 25. Tickets are $7 at the door; for more, log on to www.burlesqueasitwas.com. -- Susan Froyd