“I have several male colleagues who were in boys’ choirs and had that training and experience performing at a very early age, and that gave them a leg up in their careers,” Ms. Conant said in a phone interview from her home in New Mexico. “I don’t know any of my female colleagues who were in all-girls’ choirs — they don’t exist.”
In fact, a few do exist, most notably in Cologne, Germany, where an all-girls choir was founded in 1989 as a pendant to the traditional boys’ choir, offering them access to an equivalent musical education, vocal training and the right to perform in the cathedral. Similar programs exist in England.
In Berlin, there is a girls’ choir, but it is only organizationally linked to the State and Cathedral Choir. The ensemble’s website does not advertise a superior music educational opportunity for girls. Instead, there are links to PayPal and details about the foundation that parents can join to support the choir.
The girl involved in the lawsuit had been accepted by the Berlin girls’ choir, but she decided to sing in another ensemble in the German capital, even though it does not have the comprehensive musical education provided to the boys at the State and Cathedral Choir.
The girl, who lives in Berlin, first learned about the existence of the boys’ choir when she brought home a flier from her elementary school about the chorus’s search for candidates. Her reaction when told that it was only for boys: “That’s not fair!”
She wanted to try out anyway.
Recently, the girl sat for an interview in a cafe in Germany. Asked whether she would join the boys’ choir if she were allowed, she brightened with a smile and gave a determined nod.
But not everyone agrees with her quest.
Christian Ahrens, a professor emeritus of musicology who published a study on gender parity in the world’s leading orchestras, said that although he supported equal access to music education, integrating boys’ choirs was not the way to do it.