World’s oldest active boys’ choir to establish separate choir for girls, for first time in 1,000-year history
17 June 2021, 10:58 | Updated: 17 June 2021, 11:52
Germany’s famous Catholic boys’ choir plans to open up to girls for the first time in its millennium-old history.
One of Germany’s most esteemed Catholic boys’ choirs is establishing a separate ensemble for girls, for the first time in its 1,000-year history.
The Regensburg Cathedral choir, which is thought to be the oldest active boys’ choir in the world, will set up a separate choral group to which female singers can apply.
“We are happy to welcome girls in the future,” choir director Christian Heiss said in a statement on 15 June.
Heiss added that the Regensburger Domspaten – literally, the Regensburg Cathedral Sparrows – would still only be open to boys, and would remain the No. 1 choir at the cathedral.
Girls can apply to the separate ensemble from the beginning of the 2022-23 school year and will also have to attend the high school linked to the choir.
The men and boys’ choir dates back to the year 975, and its history is long and complicated.
In the 20th century, the choir achieved worldwide acclaim through its two esteemed directors, Theobald Schrems (1924 to 1964) and Georg Ratzinger (1964 to 1994).
The choir has toured around the world, performing for Queen Elizabeth II during a State Visit to Germany, for Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, and even at a NATO summit. But their main musical purpose remains the liturgy of St Peter’s.
In 2010, the choir hit mainstream news for cases of sexual abuse at the school, some dating back to 1958. Ratzinger, who died in 2020, said he was aware of accusations of abuse at a school linked to the choir but did nothing about it.