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The Deacon's Bench

The reviews are trickling in for Pope Benedict’s new CD, Alma Mater — the first album to feature a pontiff singing.

The Holy Father may want to keep his day job.

From the Times of London:

The result is not quite an unholy mess but it comes close. Surprisingly, it is the lead vocalist, once nicknamed “God’s Rottweiler”, who impresses with a baritone that never barks and whose fatherly cadences cleave to his multilingual prayers with a gentle authority. Only when he actually sings (fleeting phrases in the Regina Coeli) do you experience that slightly distressing effect of standing in a pew next to the elderly relative who really should not be hooting along quite so loudly.

Meantime, the album got a press preview yesterday in Rome:

The CD features eight pieces. They each begin with six lines from the Marian Litany of Loreto and then segue into a new composition of classical music with the pope’s voice overlaid, usually reciting a Marian prayer or talking about Marian devotion.

The disc was co-produced by the Pauline Fathers’ Multimedia San Paolo and Geffen Records, which is part of Universal Music Group. It was scheduled for worldwide release Nov. 30.

Pauline Father Vito Fracchiolla, general director of the order’s publishing companies in Italy, said the disc “is the fruit of the convergence of many artists and of many business and church entities, a result of teamwork aimed principally at making a gift to Pope Benedict XVI” by spreading his Marian devotion and a message of hope.

Colin Barlow, president of Geffen Records UK, said, “The beauty of this record is that it celebrates the beauty of music.”

The disc features the choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome singing in St. Peter’s Basilica under the direction of Msgr. Pablo Colino and London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra playing under the direction of Charles Dutoit.

Geffen and the Paulines held a press conference in Rome’s City Hall Nov. 10 before inviting the media to listen to the Rome choir sing selections from the album in the Basilica of St. Mary Ara Coeli.

There’s more at the link.

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