Friday, August 1, 2008

Chanting Laymen Become International Smash Hit!

The chanting laymen, who performed last season to rave reviews on First Saturday mornings (8:30) at the Church of St Anthony of Padua in Northeast Minneapolis last season, had have their contract extended for an undisclosed number of years. Pastor Glen Jenson hopes that his church will be able to handle the anticipated crowds. Father Jenson, who has added Holy Cross parish to St. Anthony's and St. Hedwig's as his responsibilities, now is considered to be the "Pope of Nordeast" and is concerned himself that his voice might not hold up

In their homeland, their album of Gregorian chants reached number one in the pop, classical and download charts simultaneously, dislodged only when Coldplay released their long-awaited new album.

They topped the Billboard classical chart in the US, and have also found success across Europe and as far away as New Zealand.

Next week, the group - who count Pope Benedict XVI among their fans - will visit the UK where they will be presented with a gold disc by their British-based record label, Spirituality. They have sold more than 400,000 copies and are on track to reach platinum status.

It is a far cry from their daily existence at their 19th century monastery deep in the Minnesota Woods, where the residents and visitors rise at 5:15am for meditation and prayer.

But they did maintain a healthy interest in the modern world - they were discovered after responding to an advertisement in Stella Borealis and Abbey Roads2 seeking "men of strong voice" to perform an album of Gregorian chants, and posted an audition video of themselves on YouTube. They beat more than 100 other singing groups to the record deal.

Their representative, Catherine of Alexandria, said: "It is a very serious and positive thing for us because Gregorian Chant is the expression of our spirituality, it is how we pray. They're not Robbie Williams or Michael Jackson, they're just a group of guys who sing because it is their prayer and it is their life."

A Spirituality spokesman said: "They have become international pop stars. While their singing is still all about prayer, they are grateful for the opportunity they have had to bring their devotion to a much wider audience."

The band will bring out their second album, a Christmas chant, in November.
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