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PBS to Air Program on the Benedictines of Mary Album ‘Lent at Ephesus' (De Montfort Music/Decca), No. 1 on Billboard Classical Chart

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Feb 22, 2014 03:04 AM EST | Louise Burton ( l.burton@classicalite.com)

PBS to Air Program on the Benedictines of Mary Album ‘Lent at Ephesus' (De Montfort Music/Decca), No. 1 on Billboard Classical Chart

The Benedictines of Mary's latest album, 'Lent at Ephesus,' was released on February 11. (Photo : De Montfort Music/Decca)

The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, live a monastic life on a secluded farm near Kansas City, Mo. Music is a major part of their life: They sing together eight times a day as part of their schedule of Vespers and Divine Office, lifting their hearts to God through music.

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Their latest recording, Lent at Ephesus, recently debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard classical chart, selling 8,160 albums in its first week of distribution, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

And now PBS has announced a television special, "Lent At Ephesus," to be shown on selected stations in March and April. Filmed and edited entirely by De Montfort Music and the Sisters themselves, the program gives viewers a rare glimpse into their music-making and monastic life inside the Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus.

The program will air on stations including Kansas City's KCPT on March 2, Chicago's WTTW on March 16 and New York City's WNET on April 6.

Check your local PBS listings for specific information on dates and times.

The new album, released on February 11 by De Montfort Music/Decca, features chants, intricate harmonies and rousing hymns of glory and redemption. The album's extremely strong opening week came after months in which the top classical CD barely sold 400 copies a week, arts commentator Norman Lebrecht recently noted.

Lent at Ephesus outsold other recent classical music releases by pianist Simone Dinnerstein and violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, as well as more commercial "crossover" fare by Lindsey Stirling, The Piano Guys and Il Divo.

The Sisters made the decision to sell albums of their music after they moved from Kansas City to donated land in northwest Missouri seven years ago. The Sisters' new priory was built on this plot of farmland, which provided more isolation than their previous home.

That project put them about $2 million into debt. To help repay said debt, the Sisters decided to try selling recordings of the music they sing on a daily basis.

Most of the nuns do not know how popular their recordings have become in the secular world. Their albums, starting with Advent at Ephesus and continuing with Angels and Saints at Ephesus, have all reached No. 1 on Billboard's classical chart.

But at the abbey, the nuns focus solely on living an austere yet joyful life--oblivious to the secular fame they have achieved.

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