Music from Muslim, agnostic composers in Pope album

ROME (Reuters Life!) - A Muslim, a Catholic and an agnostic composer have contributed music to an album featuring Pope Benedict singing and reciting prayers, which is due for release in November.

Producer Vincent Messina said his choice of Nour Eddine, Stefano Mainetti and Simon Boswell -- who describes himself as “undeclared” -- reflected “our aim to produce an album that has universal appeal to all those who love beautiful music.”

“I certainly didn’t intend to select or hire composers on the basis of their faith,” Messina told Reuters.

“These three composers, I have known them for many, many years and they are all some great film composers ... In particular with regard to the Muslim composer from Morocco, Nour Eddine, the idea came because the roots of Gregorian music somehow we share with the Arabian melodic tradition.”

The “Alma Mater” album features recordings from Vatican radio of Pope Benedict singing Marian litanies and reciting passages and prayers in St Peter’s Basilica or during trips abroad.

“We will be able to listen to one track in particular where he is singing the Regina Coeli along with a choir from the beginning to the end,” Messina said.

“Alma Mater” also includes the backing vocals of The Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome blended with modern classical recordings by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

It will be released by Geffen Records, the label that signed up Snoop Dog and Ashlee Simpson, on Nov. 23 in Europe and the United States, and on Nov. 29 in Britain.

Messina said he had yet to hear the Vatican’s official reaction to the album.

“The Vatican is always very careful about communication and so you can imagine using the voice of the Holy Father and use it in a musical album,” he said.

Editing by Paul Casciato