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Clean Bandit extend stay at top of UK music chart Chart-topping Missouri nuns to release 3rd album

LONDON, Feb 17, (Agencies): Clean Bandit have clung to the number one spot in the British music charts, seeing off stiff competition to make it four weeks running at the top, the Official Charts Company said on Sunday. Midway through the week, their song “Rather Be” was trailing behind new entry “Stay The Night” by Zedd and Hayley Williams, but a late surge in sales secured the top spot for Clean Bandit by a margin of 8,000 singles. “Stay the Night” was at number two, pushing Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” into third. David Guetta’s “Shot Me Down” charted at number four. Londoner Katy B entered the album charts at number one with her second studio album, “Little Red”. The album contains the track “Crying for no reason”, which rose to number five in the singles chart from seven last week. Ellie Goulding, London Grammar, Beyonce and Swedish DJ Avicii made up the rest of the top five, pushing aside last week’s chart topper, Bombay Bicycle Club.

Eight times a day, a group of nuns files into a chapel in their rural northwest Missouri monastery to chant and worship. Quite unexpectedly, this private, prayerful pursuit has made the Benedictines of Mary a chart-topping recording industry curiosity. After being named Billboard’s No. 1 Classical Traditional Artist of 2012 and 2013, the nuns released their third album, called “Lent At Ephesus,” Feb 11 on the De Montfort Music/Decca/Universal Classics label. Matt Abramovitz, program director for New York classical radio station WQXR, which has featured the new album on air, said the station didn’t know what to make of it when the nuns’ first record arrived. “They’re not professional singers,” he said. “They aren’t singing traditional classical repertoire, which is what we normally play, but we gave it a listen, and we were stunned by the quality of the performance and the sincerity. And they really were a hit with our audience.”

The latest album includes a capella chants, intricate harmonies and hymns of glory and redemption, all designed to capture the Christian season of preparation before Easter. How this album and the nuns’ earlier releases — “Advent at Ephesus” and “Angels and Saints at Ephesus” — came to develop a following among classical and religious music lovers is something the monastery’s prioress can only explain in religious terms. Few get a glimpse into the nuns’ daily life, with the exception of visiting priests who come to the area to recharge. Unlike many US nuns who devote themselves to public pursuits such as teaching or nursing, the nuns’ main focus is chanting each of the 150 poetic works found in the book of Psalms at least once each week in Latin, a language Snell describes as “mystical.” The pathway to a broader audience began when one of their recordings was given to Monica Fitzgibbons, general manager of De Montfort Music, based in Chicago, and tossed in a pile with other CDs. It might still be there if Fitzgibbons’ young son hadn’t asked to listen to it. Fitzgibbons, a former DreamWorks executive, and her husband, Kevin, a former Sony executive, were hooked.

“We know how to hear things in their raw state, and we found it beautiful,” Monica Fitzgibbons said.
So the couple arranged to record the nuns at their monastery. The nuns receive prayer requests and notes of thanks from listeners. One recent letter came from a woman who described playing the nuns’ music as her husband was dying and talked about the comfort it brought. The nuns also use the profit they make from the recordings to help pay off the monastery they moved into in 2010 outside Gower, a town of about 1,500 that is located about 35 miles (56 kms) north of Kansas City. Given that their existence is so isolated, Snell said the attention the music is receiving is the “last thing” she thought would happen when she became a nun. The decision meant giving up her hard-earned spot in the symphony, which she said had given her “a little taste of the beauty of making music with others.”

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