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HomeArchaeologyAfter 700 Years, Monastery Choir “Boys Only” Rule is Broken

After 700 Years, Monastery Choir “Boys Only” Rule is Broken

In one more occasion of the dissolution of gender obstacles, ladies are all set to storm one of many surviving bastions of male exclusivity: the all-boys Escolania choir, primarily based on the Benedictine abbey of Santa Maria de Montserrat, close to Barcelona, in Spain.

Next yr, for the primary time in its centuries-old historical past, the boy sopranos could have ladies and woman “colleagues”, stories Classic FM . This will finish the 700-plus yr previous male monopoly over the monastery choir. We know the custom is at the very least 700 years previous as a result of the primary written data of its existence date from 1307.

It’s not the Escolania choir itself, composed of 45 boys aged 9 to 14, that may confide in ladies, however truly a brand new combined chamber choir consisting of 25 younger ladies and men aged between 17 and 24 that may sit alongside the boys’ choir.

Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey in Montserrat mountains, Spain. (Fotokon / Adobe Stock)

Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey in Montserrat mountains, Spain. ( Fotokon / Adobe Stock)

A Choir So Old That It Isn’t Even Clear When It Was Established

The Escolania de Montserrat choir is one of many oldest vocal ensembles on the earth, older by a number of hundred years than the better-known Vienna Boys choir, in line with The Guardian so previous that it isn’t recognized how previous it actually is.

The Escolania prefect Father Efrén de Montellà mentioned, “We know the Benedictine community started here 1,000 years ago, so we are celebrating our first millennium in 2025. The choir is at least 700 years old. It has survived through all the wars and all the conflicts in our history.”

The Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery itself was based within the eleventh century and pilgrims flock there to kiss the Twelfth-century “black Madonna” statue of the Virgin of Monserrat. La Moreneta, as she is recognized, is a patron saint of Catalonia, together with Saint George. A particular hymn to the Virgin known as El Virolai sung by the Escolania choir begins with the phrases “rose of April, dark-skinned woman of the mountain”.

A “Historic Step”

According to The Guardian , Father de Montellà defined that the choice to confess women and girls was custom bowing gracefully to the calls for of the time. “We’re often asked why there aren’t any girls in the Escolania. It’s a complex and difficult question. We follow a tradition that we would like to continue but we also realise we have to respond to demand.”

“In order to include all the girls who would like to sing at Montserrat and be escolanes we’ve decided to establish this second choir,” he added, calling the transfer a “historic step” for the choir that has been in existence because the thirteenth century. A protracted debate preceded the choice which was lastly settled by a vote. The Benedictine monastery has just lately received a brand new abbot, Manel Gasch.

The choir director Pau Jorquera is to resolve on the perfect mixture of female and male voices within the new chamber choir. The new choir members are to put on cassocks and rochets just like the members of the standard choir.

The Escolania boys choir performing in the basilica of the Abbey of Montserrat, Catalonia, Spain. (Bernard Gagnon / CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Escolania boys choir performing within the basilica of the Abbey of Montserrat, Catalonia, Spain. (Bernard Gagnon / CC BY-SA 4.0 )

New Choir to Complement Rather Than Compete with the Established Choir

The Escolania choir performs twice a day within the basilica all 12 months of the yr in entrance of an estimated 3-million-strong annual pilgrim visitors to the Benedictine abbey of Santa Maria de Montserrat, 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of Barcelona.

This means the members of the choir, who’re largely boarders and should carry out on weekends and quick days as nicely, have a quite demanding schedule and no time to calm down with their households. The combined choir is meant to take over the Escolania’s liturgical duties one weekend a month to offer the boys a relaxation. This ought to assist households of their choice to permit their youngster to hitch the Escolania.

Students on the monastery research the usual curriculum whereas additionally studying to play the piano and one different musical instrument in addition to musical principle and choral singing.

As per Classic FM , the {qualifications} wanted by potential choristers of the brand new choir are sight studying talents, expertise in choral singing, and a “sensitivity …  for the Christian religion.” The chamber choir will open its audition course of in May and shall be heard by the general public for the primary time in September 2024, with its combine of women’ and boys’ voices.

Top picture: The Escolania boys choir performing within the Abbey of Montserrat, Catalonia, Spain. Source: Jean Robert Thibault / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Sahir Pandey


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