Children sing in a choir. A male choir is in trouble after a nine-year-old girl sued it for sex discrimination.
Germany’s traditional all-male cathedral choirs could be a thing of the past if a nine-year-old girl wins her gender discrimination case today (Friday).
A centuries-old Berlin choir is being sued for discrimination after it rejected the child’s applications to join the elite group of young men and boys in 2016 and 2018.
Lawyers for her family allege she was told in writing by the dean of the university’s music faculty last December that “a girl will never sing in a boys’ choir”.
They also argue that as the choir receives public funding her rejection contravenes German equal opportunity laws.
Founded in 1465 by Frederick II of Brandenburg, the Berlin State and Cathedral Choir is one of the most famous in Germany. Over its 554-year history it has never admitted any girls.
It is part of Berlin’s publicly funded University of the Arts and provides training to 250 choirboys and 75 young men under the age of 25.
However, the choir insists the girl’s rejection was “not predominantly about her gender”. Its lawyers maintain that she would have been asked to join if she had displayed extraordinary talent and motivation and “if her voice had matched the desired sound characteristics of a boys choir”. The case has rekindled debate over the view that the voices of preadolescent boys have a “purity” girls cannot match.
The case comes after Lesley Garrett, the British soprano, described all-male choirs as a “throwback to a bygone era” and called for King’s College, Cambridge, to accept female choristers.