Kevin and Monica Fitzgibbons left lucrative positions in the entertainment industry to found a company that helps unique new artists – and their De Montfort Music label will soon release an album by contemplative Benedictine nuns.
“We want to be able to bring these beautiful hymns across the ages, and chant and polyphony, and the Benedictines of Mary are extremely talented,” Monica Fitzgibbons told CNA Oct. 25.
“When we heard their music, we knew that there was something really special going on there musically that would fit in with our mission for the label.”
Monica and Kevin met through the entertainment industry, where Kevin worked at Columbia and Sony and she was part of DreamWorks. Both grew up as Catholics, but during their careers they experienced a kind of conversion or “completion” of their faith.
“After we got married and started to have kids, we both realized...how do we reconcile this and what our identity is going to be as married people with these children?” Monica said.
She credited God for this interior transformation, who she said worked through both religious and laity to encourage them in the deepening of their faith.
With “truth in charity, those little seeds were planted and it helped us realize that we did want to be part of music and entertainment and film, and to help bring that out in the world.”
She said that in the entertainment industry, “every now and then there would be something that was new, and it would always have a deeper, spiritual underpinning to it.”
From that basis, the Fitzgibbons founded Aim Higher Media in 2007, to “help encourage artists to listen to that inner voice.”
Out of that grew De Montfort Music in 2012.
“We really wanted to have something...that could be for religious communities to put their music out where it would be a nice, purer place for just that genre” of sacred music, Monica said.
“We could be the bridge between the global entertainment industry, so their music could get out but that the world would not be getting in.”
The couple's latest produced album, “Advent at Ephesus,” is by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles. An order of cloistered, contemplative Benedictine nuns in the Diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph, they are “so faithful” to both the Magisterium and the Pope, Monica noted.
The sisters' life is marked by obedience, stability, and what they call conversion or “continually turning” towards God. They have Mass daily according to the extraordinary form and chant the psalms six times a day from the 1962 Monastic Office. They also support themselves by producing made-to-order vestments.
Between the sisters' obedience and the beauty of their chant, Monica said that “it's like a slice of heaven when you're around them.”
After hearing the sisters' self-released CD, the Fitzgibbons were inspired to contact them about releasing a new album.
With a distribution deal through Decca Records, the largest international distributor of classical music, De Montfort Music enlisted a Grammy-award winning producer and engineer to “essentially build a recording studio in the sisters' chapel.”
In three days of recording, the Benedictine nuns laid down 16 tracks for the release, all of them music for the Advent season. “Maybe that's what this whole thing is about” said Monica, “shining the light on Advent through this beautiful music.”
Monica pointed out the importance of beauty in music, and the centrality of that in De Montfort Music's mission.
“If there is a high bar of musical quality to the projects we put out, we believe that will draw in all kinds of people, whether they're faith based or not, seeking the faith or not.”
“We want to project to the world what's true and beautiful, especially when done in magnifying God.”
The Benedictines' CD, “Advent at Ephesus,” will be in stores Nov. 20, but is available now for pre-order at www.demontfortmusic.com. The sisters also have their own website, benedictinesofmary.org.