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British woman produces first ever recording of Sistine Chapel Choir

by Desmond Busteed

The historic recording of the all-male choir was produced by British born and Grammy-nominated Anna Barry, in what is viewed by some as small sign of progress on the role of women inside the Vatican.

Barry described the recording as an "overwhelming privilege" to be among Michelangelo's frescoes in the building which is home to the Papal conclaves.

The Sistine Chapel Choir, the world's oldest choir, is made up of 20 adult singers and 30 boy choristers, including the first ever British full-time member and baritone Mark Spyropoulos.

The recording is part of a new album, Cantate Domino, set for release on Deutsche Grammophon on 25 September, which includes music written for the Sistine Chapel Choir by Palestrina, Lassus and Victoria during the Renaissance.

"This extraordinary choir, which has served successive popes since the early centuries of Christianity, has never before made a commercial recording in its home," said Mark Wilkinson, President of Deutsche Grammophon.

"This very special record has the power, the beauty, and the excellence to find a truly global audience, and an audience beyond the traditional confines and boundaries of classical music," added Wilkinson.

The release of Cantate Domino is released ahead of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, a Holy Year decreed by Pope Francis which begins in December.

"After an intensive period of study and scholarship of the sacred music in the Renaissance and its aesthetic pertinence, we have arrived at the point of making the first commercial recording, in this remarkable building," said director Massimo Palombella, appointed to the role five years ago by Pope Benedict.

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