Page last updated at 00:05 GMT, Sunday, 23 March 2008

Record label finds singing monks

The singing monks
The Monastery of the Holy Cross dates back to 1133

A record label's search for a group of monks to record a Gregorian chant album has ended after an Austrian monastery submitted a YouTube clip.

Universal Music, home to Eminem and Amy Winehouse, advertised in religious publications for "monks, men of the cloth and sacred singers".

Bosses were sent hundreds of demos but were impressed most by the clip from the Heiligenkreuz monastery.

An album, set for global release, will be recorded next month.

The Cistercian monastery, in the Vienna woods, is home to 80 monks and dates back to 1133.

Gregorian chant, which gained a new audience through Enigma's run of chart success in the 1990s, dates back to the early Middle Ages.

'Blown away'

The search for singing monks began in February.

Universal A&R executive Tom Lewis told the BBC News website he had been "blown away" by the quality of the monks' singing.

They're lovely people, they're very passionate about their music and they're very excited about this opportunity
Tom Lewis, Universal

"These guys found about the competition through a friend of theirs in London and they sent a link of their monastery and of them singing on YouTube," he said.

"It was beautiful, beautiful music and they're using the very latest in terms of communication devices available to them to get their music heard.

"They're lovely people, they're very passionate about their music and they're very excited about this opportunity," Mr Lewis added.

"They feel it's an opportunity for this music, that's obviously so special to them, to be heard."

'Prospering' monastery

Universal staff, who have yet to meet the monks, will travel to the monastery at the start of April to begin recording the album.

It's a fun experience because I didn't think they would choose us
Father Karl

The monastery's Father Karl said the album would feature between 10 and 12 singers.

"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 thought the monks had "a very healthy and prospering monastery", adding they were keen to "show it to the whole world".

Any profits made would be used in the training of Cistercian monks, he added.

Universal plans to release the album internationally later in the year.


SEE ALSO
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Ancient music wins new fans
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