Universal signs group of monks for new Gregorian chants album

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London, March 24 : American record label Universal has signed a group of singing monks from an ancient monastery in the middle of the Vienna Woods for recording a new CD of medieval Gregorian chants.

The company-known for releasing the work of Amy Winehouse, Eminem and 50 Cent0-signed the celibate monks from the 12th-century Stift Heiligenkreuz, or Abbey of the Holy Cross, after advertising in the church press for a group capable of singing medieval Gregorian chants.

After advertising in the church, the company received hundreds of DVDs and CDs.

However, in the end, bosses at the record label selected the sound made by the monks in the Romanesque cloisters of their abbey.

A spokesman for Universal Classics, Tom Lewis, said that he was very impressed by the "richness and cohesion" of the sound.

"They are, quite simply, the best Gregorian singers we have heard. They make a magical, evocative sound which is both immediately calming and deeply moving. It was beautiful, beautiful music, and they're using the latest in terms of communication devices available to them to get their music heard," Times Online quoted him as saying.

The CD is scheduled for recording next month.

According to reports, the record label planned to capitalise on a rise in the demand of such music after the success of the Halo XBox game, which has a plainchant soundtrack.

"Ever since the last Halo game, we've had so many inquiries about plainchant. It seems to be that younger people have some awareness of what a Gregorian chant is, even though it is not something that you come across in everyday life. We've even been asked by festival organisers if we've got nuns or monks on our roster," Dickon Stainer, Universal classics and jazz managing director, said.

Father Karl of the monastery has revealed that between 10 to 12 singers will work on the new Universal album.

"It's a fun experience because I didn't think they would choose us - it was just for fun that we wrote to them in an e-mail. It's a good thing because Gregorian chant is part of spirituality and our life," he said.

He further said that any royalties will be used by the abbey for aiding the world.

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