FATHER BASIL NIXEN IS THE CHOIRMASTER of the Benedictines at Norcia, Italy. Their chant CD is now #1 Best-seller at Barnes &Noble in the US as well as debut #1 Classical Traditional on this week’s Billboard Chart, #1 Classical Amazon US and #1 Classical iTunes US. Nevertheless, Fr Nixen demonstrated great patience and answered some pretty elementary questions from REGINA Magazine this week – all about chant.
REGINA: Do you find it confining to only have to sing chant?
Fr. Basil Nixen: I must admit that years ago when I first entered the monastery I did find it confining to sing exclusively chant. At times I yearned for the rich harmony of polyphony or Eastern chant and even looked at Gregorian Chant as lacking something due to its monophonic character. And I can see how somebody might feel like this. But now I certainly do not feel like this. Now, after ten years or so of a diet of liturgical prayer consisting exclusively of it, I’ve come to experience the richness and depth inherent in Gregorian Chant and I see its monophonic character as a jewel– certainly not as a defect. It just takes time for it to sink in. Our musical palate has to become accustomed to it. I think that as with all fine things in life, and above all with prayer itself, Gregorian Chant is an acquired taste.
From “Isn’t Chant Too Hard?” And Other Outlandish Questions for the Monks of Norcia, from Regina Magazine.