Why Did It Take German School Choir 1000 Years To Admit Girls?

German School Choir Admit Girls
Christmas 2022 will be monumental for girls residing in Regensburg, Bavaria, in Germany because they get to sing in the choir for the first time. Sounds surprising, doesn’t it? We’d think that the all-boys club, at least in cathedrals, would have long been inclusive but it wasn’t the case for a school choir in the European country. Founded in 975 for boys and young men, the choir The Regensburger Domspatzen is finally accepting girls in its music school for the first time in a thousand years. While girls will perform in a separate choir this holiday season, their stories show how their acceptance into an instruction they dreamed of is nothing short of a miracle for some of them.

After a thousand years, the Regensburger Domspatzen school choir in Germany has opened its doors to girls to be part of the popular music school and choir regime. They will are now permitted to sing at the church, too, something they longed for but were denied for several years.

Suggested reading: Gender Equality Cannot Be Achieved Until Mindsets Are Addressed First

German school choir admit girls in 1000 years

The news of the Bavaria-based Regensburg Domspatzen school choir admitting girls was announced by the school itself on their official website. Stating that they will now open the doors of their popular music choir to girls, the school mentioned how the Board of Trustees decided on the move unanimously. This may be a piece of important news the rest of the world read on a particular day and moved on to other issues around, but for young girls residing in Regensburg, it’s certainly a historic one. “We gladly announce that for the first time, girls will now be accepted and admitted at a church music school attached to one of the country’s most famous boys’ choirs,” read the statement.

Regensburger Domspatzen was founded in 975. Its name also translates as cathedral sparrows, one of the world’s most popular and oldest choirs for boys. The school that was founded alongside the choir delivers great quality German education, however, their primary focus lies around music and a strict one-hour choir practice per day. Girls admitted will have a separate choir for themselves parallel to the boys’ choir that has been actively singing at the cathedral. 

“For many centuries, women weren’t allowed to sing in the church. The whole of church music history gave women no voice.”

The girls’ choristers gave their first performance at the cathedral after weeks of practice and their happiness knew no bounds. Happy to have found a voice, rather than make their voices heard, some girls shared their stories with local news agencies.

Elisabeth Wühl, 15, grew up taking piano lessons since she was six years old, and for as long as she can remember, she always sang with her twin brother Serafin. While the duo joined the same choir as kids, they decided to further their music careers. Serafin gained a spot at Domspatzen but Elisabeth was denied admission because of her gender. Elisabeth, who gained a spot at a girl’s Catholic music college nearby, says she does not intend to take admitted at Domspatzen after it changed its policy, but she is glad the choir is open to girls now.

“It always annoyed me that the boys were favoured. That’s why I think it’s really great that there are girls here too now.”

Munich-based Dorothea Krakowsky always dreamed of studying music at the choir at Domspatzen choir but realised the dynamics of the institution while growing up. Now that the choir opened its doors for girls, Dorothea’s brilliance and dedication earned her a pot at the choir. Dorothea, who took admitted to the choir school in September alongside her twin brother, Johannes, told NPR that her excitement is twofold now that she is performing for the first time in front of hundreds of people. “It’s the first time we have done this and have sung at the cathedral makes me excited. It’s something I longed for.”

The institution has earlier drawn attention owing to sexual abuse scandals as well. An investigative report in 2017 revealed how between 1945 to 2015, over 500 boys were subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of church priests and teachers at the institute. The report surfaced accounts of several boys who also faced physical assault by teachers in their boarding school. The church compensated survivors with amounts between $20,000 and $30,000. The flak that the church associated drew cost them not just their dignity but also millions of dollars which, in a way, was not enough to do right by years of abuse the young faced as most perpetrators had died by the time the investigation report was out.

The choir is now making revolutionary changes within its system and, although there’s a lot they need to implement in order to do right by its children, this step of admitting girls feels like the right step in the direction. A step, hundreds of girls have waited for so they could sing and find their voice. Although the corridors of Domspatzen break into astounding sounds every year with high holiday spirits, this year’s sounds are more musical in more ways than one. The video of young girls beaming with joy because they’re getting to sing after a thousand years at a place, that was primarily reserved only for boys, is overwhelming in a thousand different ways. 

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