Saturday, March 22, 2008

Chanting Monks Head to Top

See this news report on how chant is once again poised for a massive pop success. Now if only the Catholic music establishment would get the message of V2 ("a treasure of inestimable value") and perhaps someday we will hear the real thing, and not pop music, at papal Masses scheduled in the US.

THEY may have landed a major record deal on the same label as rap bad boy Eminem and troubled soul singer Amy Winehouse. But there is no danger of these rookie pop stars becoming hellraisers.
Because Universal Music's latest signings are a group of singing monks who have been personally endorsed by Pope Benedict XVI.

The brothers from the Monastery of the Holy Cross in the heart of the Vienna Forest wowed record bosses with their haunting Gregorian chanting.

They believe their first album will be an unlikely hit around the globe.

The music giant launched an international search for ecclesiastical singers last year.

Their belief that Gregorian chanting is the next big thing was fuelled by the huge popularity of the soundtrack to the best-selling computer game Halo, which features the eerie religious music.

The monks may live in one of the oldest continually inhabited Cistercian abbeys in the world, but they used a very modern means to grab the attention of the record label, posting footage of one of their performances on the YouTube site.

Universal Classics' spokesman, Tom Lewis, was instantly bowled over by the richness and cohesion of their sound.

He said: "They are, quite simply, the best Gregorian singer
s we have heard. They make a magical, evocative sound which is both immediately calming and deeply moving."

The group will now make their first ever commercial recording of Gregorian chanting, the earliest form of music ever to be written down.

The label plans to release of the album later this year.

Universal Music began its search in early February when they placed adverts across religious publications. There was a huge response, with more than 100 demo tapes pouring in.

The Pope doesn't generally travel to monasteries but made an exception for this commune and visited last year when he lavished praise on the musical performance of the monks.

Gregorian chant is not a complete stranger to the pop charts. In 1990 the track 'Sadness (Part I)' by German producers Enigma, which featured samples of the ancient musical style, soared to number one in the UK and across Europe.

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