This month, PBS will broadcast throughout the United States Br. Alessandro Brustenghi’s concert recorded last year on the Feast Day of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians. The performance took place at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, where the resident choir, as well as the Orchestra da Camera di Perugia and the children’s choir, Coro Aurora, accompanied Br. Alessandro in a program of sacred classics. He sang a selection of songs from his CD trilogy: Voice from Assisi, Voice of Joy and Voice of Peace.
Although he has already toured the United States giving performances at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, Calif., the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, as well as St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, among other venues, this will be the first time Br. Alessandro will appear on mainstream American television. Several PBS stations will begin airing Br. Alessandro’s concert this week, on March 4 and 5.
“The performances of Br. Alessandro are always a way of evangelizing,” said Br. Eunan McMullan, OFM, who assists in organizing and publicizing Br. Alessandro’s singing engagements. As Br. Alessandro says at the start of the concert, Franciscan friars have been around for more than 800 years propounding the Gospel of joy, beauty and peace. Thus, his message is the same one that St. Francis communicated to people.
Next month, on Easter, the singing friar will be featured on the CBS Sunday Morning show that also was recorded in Assisi.
Br. Alessandro is the first religious brother to land a contract with a major record label, in this case Universal Music. In a story published on the English Speaking Conference website, Br. Alessandro said that when he decided to sign as a recording artist, the grounds were established at the outset. He is to remain first a friar with vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and then to perform his music.
Under his contract, the proceeds from the sales of his CDs do not go to him but to the Order of the Friars Minor to contribute to charitable works, and this in effect has meant a significant sum has gone to the Order’s missions. Br. Alessandro does not go into the world as a celebrity or stays at fancy hotels, but rather, travels with another friar and stays in friaries and religious institutions.
Together with his passion for music, Br. Alessandro was drawn to religious life at an early age, entering the Order in 1999 when he was 21 and 10 years later taking his final vows as a Franciscan friar. A sampling of Br. Alessandro’s music can be found on his YouTube channel. Information about Br. Alessandro’s life and music can be found on his website as well as on the Friar Alessandro Facebook page.
– Johann Cuervo is communications assistant for Holy Name Province.
- “Voice from Assisi: The Humble Friar with a Record Deal” – Dec. 25, 2016, CBC/Radio-Canada
- “Singing Friar to Perform Again in United States” – Sept. 24, 2014, HNP Today
- “Francis in the Schools Brings Noted Tenor to Sing at Cathedral“– Nov. 18, 2013, HNP Today
- “The Singing Friar to Perform in United States” – Nov. 6, 2013, HNP Today