Hereford follows the herd and lets in the girls

Hereford follows the herd and lets in the girls


norman lebrecht

February 04, 2022

Message received:

The Chapter of Hereford Cathedral has announced today that it will be welcoming girls to join the internationally-renowned Hereford Cathedral Choir.

The choir, which has been in existence for many centuries, has until now consisted of boy choristers ranging from ages 7–13, together with the adult professional singers who provide the alto, tenor and bass parts of the choir. This year, for the first time in its history, girls of the same age as the boys will also be invited to audition for the choir and to receive a full musical education as choristers in the beautiful surroundings of Hereford Cathedral.

Choristers receive valuable scholarships from the Chapter to attend Hereford Cathedral Junior School and Hereford Cathedral School. In cases of financial need these scholarships can be increased to 100% of the school fees. Applications to join the choir are welcome from potential choristers, whether or not they are currently pupils at Hereford Cathedral Junior School.


  • he says:

    What heresy, allowing girls to sing soprano.

  • The German courts ruled in 2019 that children’s choirs can exclude girls. Germany will eventually catch up, but as is so often the case when it comes to gender concepts in its classical music world, it will take time.

  • X says:

    I’ve heard that girls’ voices develop in such a way that singing at a young age is actually bad for their vocal health. Can anyone confirm/deny?

  • Ms.Melody says:

    I am sad that the unique sound of all boys choir is about to become a thing of the past, Centuries of tradition given up because of woke pressure that no cathedral can oppose. By the way, has Vienna Boys’ Choir rebranded itself as Vienna Children’ Choir yet?

    • Una says:

      Which boys’ choirs are you talking about? They are not uniform.

    • John Borstlap says:

      But for the music it really makes no difference, whether sung by boy sopranos or girl sopranos. It was a silly idea to keep girls out of church choirs in the first place, for the same reason that women were no good for being priest (although one got it as far as becoming a pope). The urge to not be distracted from God’s idea to make half of people attractive to the other half, created an absurd idea of religion.

      I’m all for female emancipation, even if we have to pay the price of having to cope with PA’s who object to half of their work.

  • William Evans says:

    The Cathedrals that have permitted the inclusion of girl choristers must surely understand that girls’ voices are quite different in quality from those of boys of a similar age. This does not mean they are better or worse, simply different, and will therefore inevitably change the traditional tonal balance of the choirs concerned.

    • whatever says:

      Except that most listeners can’t tell the difference between a boys’ choir and a mixed children’s choir. And those few experts that can tell from recordings weren’t able to distinguish the two groups in a cathdral acoustic. It’s a cognitive bias like any other to exclude girls

    • John Borstlap says:

      It may give a slightly different timbre to the music, but would that mean that the music would come across with a flaw? Seems highly unlikely, to put it mildly. And if sopranos would be gender-mixed, the change would be very minor as well.

  • mary says:

    Like the Stradivarius, everyone thinks they can hear a distinct quality of sound… until there is a blind playing/listening test, then neither the performers nor the professional listeners can distinguish a Strad from another fine modern instrument.

    Close your eyes and listen to the music.

  • nableno says:

    Centuries of choral tradition down the memory hole in 2022, like how the Taliban blew up the Bamiyan Buddha in 2001. If anything deserves to be on UNESCO’s roster of precious intangible world heritage, it’s the traditional Anglican choir. Why must every last such choir now be turned into a mixed choir? Where’s the ‘diversity’ in that? Can’t there be an ecosystem where choral ensembles of different kinds coexist? Can’t traditional choirs that are uniquely capable of singing the music composers wrote for them? There are notable differences between boys and girls voices. What girls could sing with these timbres and energies? Yes, Anglican choral music calls on these resources, too. (Hear New College’s recordings of Locke or Tomkins or their brilliant disk of Josquin’s Marian anthems … which today’s New College, with women altos, can no long sing with any authenticity.) For the anatomy behind these differences, here’s a short German video (English speakers can use auto-translate):