Girls’ choir to join 1,000-year boys’ choir at German Catholic cathedral

The Regensburger Domspatzen, a choir based at Regensburg Cathedral in Bavaria, Germany The Regensburger Domspatzen, a choir based at Regensburg Cathedral in Bavaria, Germany. | Bistum Regensburg.

A German Catholic diocese announced Tuesday that a cathedral school whose pupils sing in a 1,000-year-old boys’ choir will admit girls.

The Diocese of Regensburg said June 15 that the cathedral school associated with the Regensburger Domspatzen choir will be open to girls from 2022.

The school in the southern German city of Regensburg will form its own girls’ choir, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

The diocese explained that the step was intended to “make the high-quality musical training of this institution accessible to girls in the future.”

“With their singing abilities, they should form a new pillar of their own in Regensburg Cathedral music,” it said.

The Regensburger Domspatzen’s board of trustees decided unanimously that the cathedral choir would remain “as a pure boys’ and men’s choir with its unmistakable sound in its previous form.”

The Domspatzen -- which means “Cathedral Sparrows” in English -- are believed to be one of the world’s oldest boys’ choirs.

The choir traces its roots back to 975, when Bishop Wolfgang of Regensburg founded a cathedral school that emphasized musical training. The pupils sang in the cathedral’s liturgies.

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI’s older brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, led the choir from 1964 to 1994.

The cathedral school is known today as the Domspatzen Gymnasium.

Cathedral dean Fr. Franz Frühmorgen noted that both the cathedral chapter and Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg supported the new project.

He said: “In recent years, especially in connection with the hiring of important key positions at the Domspatzen, there has been repeated talk about offering girls the opportunity to come to the Domspatzen Gymnasium in order to promote their singing and musical skills at the highest level and to put them at the service of cathedral music.”

He added: “We consider this opening to be meaningful and we warmly welcome the girls at the Gymnasium and as a choir in our cathedral.”

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