A choir of 18 girls sang at the U.K.’s Winchester Cathedral Sunday, ending a 900-year-old tradition in which only men sang there. The new choir will perform in the cathedral once a week.
The cathedral has not allowed girls to perform in its boys’ choir, and set up a separate girls’ choir only begrudgingly, after a girl who was denied entry to the boys’ choir threatened to take legal action. The Cathedral’s Dean, the Very Reverend Michael Till, explained that many have resisted the inclusion of girls, believing that boys’ voices are superior and arguing that the addition of girls could jeopardize the choir’s reputation.
“There’s been anxiety from people who rightly value the English choral tradition and the boys choir that we have and think we’re somehow downgrading it,” explained Till. “We’re not at all.We’re just creating a new choir to go alongside that existing choir.”