Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Vatican Alma Mater

Alma Mater

Press Release -
London, Wednesday 30 September 2009:
Released by Geffen/Universal with Multimedia San Paolo:


"I am convinced that music really is the universal language of beauty which can bring together all people of good will on earth” Pope Benedict XVI"

London, 30 September 2009: It was announced today that Simon Boswell, Stefano Mainetti and Nour Eddine are the three contemporary composers who have contributed eight specially commissioned pieces of music for ‘Alma Mater’, the album which features the voice of Pope Benedict XVI, the Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome conducted by Monsignor Pablo Colino and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In keeping with the very special nature of 'Alma Mater', the album is released on Sunday 29 November by Geffen/Universal.

Vincent Messina, producer of Alma Mater, said:
"These three composers are world class and my first choices for the album. A happy co-incidence is that Stefano is Catholic, Simon is 'undeclared' and Nour is Muslim, thus perfectly representing our aim to produce an album that has universal appeal to all of those who love beautiful music. Their wonderful compositions for 'Alma Mater' have exceeded our expectations and we have all been very moved at how successfully these modern scores blend with the choir, the orchestra and the Pope’s voice. We feel sure that the music and the spoken word will both surprise and delight."

Rome-born Stefano Mainetti and Brit Simon Boswell are both celebrated and award-winning film composers. Mainetti has scored countless feature films, TV series, documentaries and stage productions, including the US Audio Bible, 'The Word of Promise'. Mainetti was also one of two composers who composed 'Abba Pater'. Boswell, who began his career in Italy, has composed for over 90 feature films, including several directed by Oscar-winning Danny Boyle. As well as writing for Alma Mater, Mainetti and Boswell have also been involved with the album’s music arrangements and production.

In writing for Alma Mater, the process was unusual, in that the starting point for the composers was not writing the music, but using the Gregorian Chants as the launch pad.

Stefano Mainetti:
"Here, instead of composing to a film script, which I’m used to, the ‘script’ was the Gregorian chants sang by the Choir and the words of the Pope, and it was fantastically inspiring."

Simon Boswell:
"Being in the historic space of St Peter's Basilica and listening to the air resonate with Gregorian chant was mesmerizing and a great responsibility - as it was when using the Holy Father’s voice. When composing, I was very sensitive to the rhythms of his speech. To me, the album has an uplifting, emotional core that, as with Renaissance art, you don’t have to be Catholic, Anglican or Muslim, to appreciate."

Nour Eddine is an Italy-based Moroccan musician and composer famed for world music, and to many, a highly imaginative choice for this ambitious project.

Nour Eddine: "It was a big surprise when I was asked by Vincent Messina to contribute to this album, because I'm from a traditional Arabic music background not a Classical one, but I then discovered that Gregorian chants and Arabic melody has deep historical roots in the Muslim world as well as the Christian world. It was a magical moment for me when the tradition of the Gregorian and my Arabic melody came together so harmoniously."

All three composers will be conducting their music from ‘Alma Mater’ at a series of concerts to launch the album in the winter – details to be announced.

Pope Benedict XV1 is expected to visit the UK in late 2010, the first papal visit to this country for more than 28 years.

The album was made possible by Multimedia San Paolo and Vatican Radio.

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