Austria’s singing monks become international chart sensation

August 2nd, 2008 - 12:15 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Amy Winehouse

London, Aug 2 (IANS) A group of Cistercian monks from the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Austria have become the most unlikely international chart sensation of the year. The chanting monks’ album “Chant - Music for Paradise” remained in the top 20 chart in Britain for the past two months alongside the likes of Amy Winehouse, while it reached number one in the pop and classical charts in their home country, The Telegraph has reported.

Their Gregorian chants album also found success across Europe and even toppled the Billboard classical chart in the US, the London-based newspaper reported Friday.

The monks belonging to the 12th century Stift Heiligenkreuz monastery in the Vienna Forest hogged the limelight after responding to an advertisement in The Tablet and The Church Times seeking “men of the cloth” to perform an album of Gregorian chants.

They posted an audition video of themselves on YouTube and surprisingly beat some 100 odd singing groups to seal the deal.

“It is a very serious and positive thing for us because Gregorian Chant is the expression of our spirituality, it is how we pray,” Father Karl Wallner, their spokesman, said while describing their achievement.

“We’re not Robbie Williams or Michael Jackson, we are just a group of monks who sing every day because it is our prayer and it is our life.”

Since the release of their album in May, the monks, who count Pope Benedict XVI among their fans, have become an international smash hit, creating records in pop and classical charts around the globe.

“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,” said a Universal Classics spokesman.

The monks have been invited by their Britain-based record label, Universal Classics, to visit Britain next week where they will be felicitated with a gold disc.

More than 400,000 copies of their album have been sold so far and they are on track to reach platinum status.

The band is expected to come out with their second album, a Christmas chant, in November.

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