15 October 2020, The Tablet

Sisters with attitude


Sisters with attitude

The nuns listen to the playback after a recording session
Photo: © Chris O’Donovan

 

The Poor Clares of Arundel hope their album of plainchant with added beats will bring a new generation to a place of peace

For the Poor Clare community of Arundel the idea that a record label might be interested in releasing an album of their music started out as a joke. “We heard that someone wanted to come along to Vespers to listen in,” says Sr Gabriel. “And we thought he’d come along, hear us, and we’d never hear from him again.”

But producer James Morgan, who had been alerted to the nuns’ musical abilities by a mutual friend, loved what he heard. He’d been searching for a while for a community of nuns to work with on an album of religious music. Raised a Catholic and educated at Ampleforth, he had always understood the power of the monastic choir. “I was bowled over by their music – it was so beautiful,” he says.

But even with Morgan’s enthusiasm, the path was far from clear. “We took the idea to a community meeting, but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t get through,” says Sr Aelred, the community’s choir leader. The Poor Clares, after all, are rather different from most fledgling musical stars.

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