A Conversation for The Anglican Choral Tradition

Sopranos and Trebles

Post 1

Lux Rothchop (wouldn't it be great if people were nice to each other for a change?)

This is only a guess, but is there any relation between people who care about male-only or mixed choirs and people who see choirs as being about music rather than religion?

To a non-Anglican, it would seem that, if a choir is there to praise God, then it would be outrageous to exclude women, whereas if it's about making music to entertain people then it's a matter of personal taste. Or are there people who believe you have to be male to praise God properly?

But then again I'm Catholic, so what do I know? smiley - winkeye


Sopranos and Trebles

Post 2


These days I only care about the music and I prefer mixed choirs, just to confuse things. smiley - smiley

Sopranos and Trebles

Post 3


Well as an anglican singer- I think its a rather bad traditional thing. I prefer mixed choirs, actually some of my friends prefer adult choirs with female sopranos because they think they sing it more musically, having a more indepth understanding of the music.
But part of the music being beautiful is to enhance the worship experience of the congregation, so you should have the best choir sound possible, so that it enhances and certainly doesn't distract the congregation by making mistakes, leading them to worrying about the choir rather than thinking about the service.
Or something.

Sopranos and Trebles

Post 4


I am a Canadian, and someone who loves Anglican church music, especially the
traditional choirs of men and boys. I am planning a trip sometime this year
to England, with intentions to tour several cathedrals and to attend choral
services as I have done on previous trips. I have been surfing some of the English Cathedral Links sites to get choir information and info on service schedules. But what I have found has saddened me, and that is that many of the great men and boys cathedral choirs have been altered to include girl trebles, either as a mixed choir or in what they call 'alternating' choirs. It seems the forces of political correctness are as potent in Britain as in North America, and yet another wonderful religious/esthetic tradition has been jettisoned. I have argued against this change on many occasions, not necessarily because I believe there is any inherent superiority of boys' voices over girls, but for the following reasons: 1./ Because a boy's voice
(ie.a fine boy voice) is a precious and ephemeral thing, a kind of mystical
metaphor for the gospel message itself, a beautiful 'shooting star' that lasts only a few years. For me, it is a rapturous experience when I hear the service sung by great collegiate choirs like King's or St. John's in Cambridge. The boy trebles represent in my mind a kind of force against nature, so to speak; the expression of the male in high voice tenderness provokes feelings that suggest the irony of the Christian message itself; perhaps of a kind of tamed masculinity, something that is required to turn aggression to love, as the gospel promises. 2./ Because it is difficult enough to involve
young boys in esthetic or artistic pursuits, whereas with the existence of
boys' cathedral choirs, the fraternal tradition and camaraderie of the choir
school is in itself a motivation for talented boys to take part. If girls
are made part of this tradition it will, in a generation or two, become the
virtual sole preserve of girls, because it is an observable fact that girls
and women are more naturally drawn to participation in church activities
than boys or men. This is clearly seen in church membership as a whole,
which is now largely female, both in Britain and in North America. 3./
Because, simply, boys-only cathedral choirs are an ancient tradition, and
traditions lovingly connect us with our past, our roots; and that connection
provides us with feelings of comfort and wistfulness. Religious and artistic tradition need not defend itself, it is simply justified in itself by virtue of its attractiveness to countless generations of those drawn to it. Wistfulness, for me,
is a feeling powerfully connected with the message of Christ and the
esthetics of beautiful church liturgy. I am sure many people share the need for unchanging modes of worship, but accede to the termination of traditions due to intimidation from loud and sometimes hysterical demands from organized forces of modernism, who apply extreme principles of 'democracy' to every avenue of life, sometimes including the same-sex sharing of toilets.
When the church, or any institution, tries to be 'all things to all people'
it ends up being nothing to anyone.

Sopranos and Trebles

Post 5


I sing with an amateur parish (Anglican) choir and we have both. We also have a countertenor and our (female) organist has been known to sing tenor or 1st bass when needed. Small choirs should utilise all the resources available to them regardless of anything except ability.

Sopranos and Trebles

Post 6


I, too, am a Canadian, and have always loved the traditional choirs of men and boys--our house was full of church music sung by King's, my brothers and father and cousins all sang in the all-male church choir; I have always appreciated the the sound, tradition, and message of the treble choir.
However, I disgree with the premise that mixed choirs are some sort of detriment to the institution. I have always loved to sing, needed to almost; but I, unlike my brothers, could not join our own church choir, though I perhaps have the most appreciation for Anglican church music in my family. This is wounding. I do not think it is "political correctness" that has made these cathedrals have girl choristers; I think it is the recognition that the spiritual fulfilment of singing is not limited to boys alone. There is an extent to which the choir is a service to the church, and to that end the preservation of a certain sound and ideal is important; but a choir is also a service to its members, and to this end it is of great import that there be choirs of equal quality and stature for girls to sing in.

Sopranos and Trebles

Post 7


The main reason that my old cathedral choir became mixed (some years before I joined) was simply that, to be honest, the boys weren't very good.
With fewer and fewer trebles coming through the ranks and fewer people able to train them, the standard has dropped the point that they are simply unable to keep up with the demands of the choir. They aren't bad singers, but because there is no cathedral school and they come once a week (any more than that and they stop coming altogether), they aren't musically educated enough to cope.

I can see the appeal of male voice choirs. But as a female who loves singing music, I am so, so glad that I now have the opportunity to do so. Listening is nothing to participating.

smiley - fairy

Sopranos and Trebles

Post 8


I really miss my chapel choir from uni. I completely agree with you Vip... I loved singing anglican choral music so very much, and I'd really, really love to sing soprano in it again...

Sopranos and Trebles

Post 9


Of course it would be outrageous not to have girls and women in the church choirs as well. Nevertheless boys'choirs have something of which it would be a pity if it were lost.
I live in the Netherlands and, strangely enough in this calvinist country, more and more boys'choirs seem to be founded. Some of them stress that they are modeled after the English ones.
Quite a lot still exist in Germany, Austria and France as well.
And they seem to be reappearing in Italy after having disappeared
because they had become associated with certain repulsive
practices.I suppose the English might find the inspiration
they possibly need to keep the tradition of boys'choirs alive.

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