Pope Prays to Musical Accompaniment in New CD

By: Daniela Petroff - AP Writer
By: Daniela Petroff - AP Writer

Pope Benedict XVI sings and prays along to a mix of modern music and ancient church chants in a new album presented Tuesday before its release at the end of the month.

The album, entitled "Alma Mater - Music from the Vatican,"
includes eight original pieces of contemporary music, interwoven
with Gregorian chants and the pope's voice.

Benedict sings a hymn and recites prayers to the Virgin Mary in
various languages, including Italian, French and Latin.

Part of the proceeds will go to fund music education for
underprivileged children throughout the world, Colin Barlow,
president of Geffen Records in Britain, said at a presentation of
the album at Rome's city hall on Capitol hill.

The pope's voice was not recorded specifically for the project.
The soundbites were given to record label Geffen/Universal by
Vatican Radio, which owns the rights, said the Rev. Federico
Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman and head of the radio station.

"The pope is open to new ways of evangelization ... to
experiment with new ways to transmit a spiritual message that the
world greatly needs," he said.

There are nearly 10 minutes of the pope's voice in the 49-minute
album.

The composers involved came from different cultural and
religious backgrounds. Simon Boswell, who said he is agnostic, said
the album was "a fantastic inspiration that had a profound effect
on me."

Benedict is accompanied by the Choir of the Philharmonic Academy
of Rome, recorded in St. Peter's Basilica and the Royal
Philharmonic Orchestra, which recorded in London at the Abbey Road
studios. The three tracks were then mixed in a studio outside Rome
to produce the album.

The German-born Benedict comes from a music-loving family and
plays the piano. Mozart and Bach are among his favorite composers.

Benedict is not the first pope to have his creative efforts
captured on record.

Some of the composers and producers on the project had worked on
a similar 1999 album entitled "Abba Pater" (the word "Father"
in Hebrew and Latin), which featured the voice of Benedict's
predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

Last year tenor Placido Domingo recorded an album of poems by
the late John Paul. Entitled 'Infinite Love,' it put to music
composed by the tenor's son some of the late pope's literary
efforts during his years as a priest and then as a bishop in
Poland, as well as during his 26 years as pope.

The "Alma Mater" album is not a Vatican initiative but was
arranged by Multimedia San Paolo, an Italian Catholic media group.

It is due for release worldwide Nov. 30, in time for Christmas.


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