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Montserrat Monastery to Admit Girls to Choir After a 700-Year History of All-Boys Choir

A historic monastery in Spain has announced that it will be admitting girls into its choir for the first time in its 700-year history. 

The Santa Maria de Montserrat, an abbey of the Order of Saint Benedict located on the mountain of Montserrat in Monistrol de Montserrat, Catalonia, Spain, is known for its stunning Romanesque and Gothic architecture and has been a place of worship and pilgrimage for centuries. After a long 700-year history of having an all-boys choir, the monastery is set to create new choir members consisting of both males and females aged 17 to 24, who will perform liturgical responsibilities once in a month.

The Monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat | Credit: Spain Info

In a statement by the monastery, the new boys and girls choir will be “trained in vocal techniques and spiritual disciplines…organised by people linked to the Escolania and the Benedictine community”.

The decision to open up the choir to girls comes after much deliberation and discussion among the members of the monastery was guided by the Benedictine order. According to a spokesperson for the monastery, the decision was made in recognition of the changing times and the need to adapt to the evolving needs of the community.

Father Efrem de Montellà in a statement, said that forming another choir to include females was a way to continue the tradition and also listen to demands for their introduction. “We’re often asked why there aren’t any girls in Escolania,” De Montellà said. “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.”

He further added: “Girls needed to be included and given the opportunity to be able to do the same and it is with this inclusive mind that we want to start the new choir.”

It was made known that the newly created choir will begin their duties in September.

The choir has always been an integral part of the monastery’s religious services and has been exclusively male for hundreds of years. However, with the dwindling number of male members and the increasing interest among young girls in choral singing, the monastery felt it was time to open its doors to girls.

The admission of girls into the choir marks a significant turning point in the history of the monastery. It is a move that reflects the changing times and the evolving needs of the community. The monastery hopes that it will not only help to ensure its survival but also inspire other institutions to embrace gender equality and diversity.

As the monastery prepares to welcome its first female choir members, there is a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air. Many see this as a historic moment, one that will be remembered for many years to come.  

The Santa Maria de Montserrat may be centuries old, but it is proving that it can adapt and change with the times, while still honouring its rich heritage and traditions.

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