Johns seek women (in the nicest possible way)

Johns seek women (in the nicest possible way)


norman lebrecht

October 15, 2021

St John’s College Cambridge has bowed to the modern world and agreed to admit girls and women to its celebrated choir.

Founded in the 1670s,tThe Choir of St John’s features around 20 choristers of eight years old and upwards. They sing daily Evensong and Sunday Eucharist in term time.

Andrew Nethsingha, Director of Music, says: ‘Providing an opportunity for girls and women to sing as members of The Choir of St John’s is a very exciting development for the choral tradition of the College. Choral singing is a specialised art form, and our choir has played a formative role in the careers of many globally recognised musicians.

‘Extending membership to talented female singers creates an exceptional new musical opportunity for women and girls, as our much loved choir continues to make a highly valued contribution to the musical life of St John’s and the wider world.’

The jittery PR line is: St John’s College will continue its reputation for musical excellence by featuring male and female voices – both adults and children – in its world-renowned choir for the first time.


  • V. Lind says:

    That headline is just vulgar.

  • caranome says:

    Totally bad pun headline clickbait, and I was one victim. Everyone who clicked on this is a victim.

  • John Borstlap says:

    These fluctuating social justice movements can be very confusing.

    The Torino Mandoline Orchestra originally consisted entirely of female players, following a long local tradition. Five years ago the ensemble was under pressure to allow men, because the ensemble was considered discriminatory. Soon after, they were under pressure to have 30% fugitives from non-European countries, which enriched the ensemble with some pipas and uds, drastically changing the programming. And now, the UNEM (Unione Nazionale degli Ensemble di Mandolini) has issued the binding instruction for all Italian mandoline ensembles to only recrute female players and disengage all males because males have become too dominant, oppressing and intervening into the feminine sensitivities of the mandoline.

  • Gary Freer says:

    I hope they will retain a boy treble choir alongside but separate from the girls. the two voices are different. Under George Guest the choir was arguably the best of its kind in the world.

    • MatteoB says:

      Sadly not: mixed trebles. This is why a lot of purists are sad at this. We inevitably get called sexist and dinosaurs by the hard left woke brigade. Sadly we are fighting against the tide and I think that beautiful sound of boy choristers, at least in thid country, is in danger. Germany is holding firm though. A friend there told me some parents sued the Thomanerchor Leipzig for not letting their little girl in under equality laws but the Judge there ruled the choir were free to pursue their desired artistic goal and that a boy treble is unique. That is why Bach (it’s his old choir) employed women singers but the Thomaners were and are boys. Same thing with Vienna Boys Choir. Boys just can’t be boys together anymore.

  • MatteoB says:

    I know this will be unpopular but while adult female altos would be acceptable I think the sound will suffer. Choristers retire at 13: trained boys sound magnificent at that age but the girl is only at the beginning of her singing career. I’ve done blind tests on doubters and all have picked out the boys from the girls saying the boys sounded fuller and richer; the young girls thin and lacking body to the sound. If you want to do my test go to Dancing Day: Christmas Music from Exeter and listen to “Joys Seven” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” on Spotify and tell me which is sung by boys and which girls. Everyone I have asked to do this, including those with little experience if music and singing, have guessed correctly and said the difference is obvious. St Johns could have introduced a seperate choir but by going mixed top line the sound excellence will suffer and the boys will probably not come forward as much and die off. Girls are inevitably swottier at this age and boys without the special status will probably “leave it to the girls” I am happy to eat humble pie if wrong but I think I have predicted correctly