The Berlin Girls Choir was founded in 1986 at the protestant Linden Church. Back then, the choir was the first choir school for girls in West-Berlin and one of the few in Germany. The aim of the initiators – the cantor Gerhard Oppelt and the soprano Karin Drewes – was to enable similar opportunities for girls to sing in a choir as boys choirs have yet been doing this for hundreds of years.
In the beginning, the emphasis of the Berlin Girls Choir was laid on the active participation in the worship services at the Linden Church. Today, the repertoire comprises of polyphonic spiritual and profane literature from all epochs, culminating in premieres of pieces written by contemporary composers. We sing a cappella, with piano accompaniment, chamber orchestras and big orchestras.
In order to develop further in the choir and to form a sound-emitting body of high quality, the contact with the School of Music Wilmersdorf (today: Academy of Music City West) was established short after the foundation of the choir.
Thus it is ensured that the girls are taught by artistically and educationally competent and professionally trained teachers.
In 1998, the freelance composer, conductor and music teacher Sabine Wüsthoff took over the charge of the Berlin Girls Choir. She gave the choir a new structure and enlarged its profile. Since then, the Berlin Girls Choir consists of the Basic Choir (6 to 8 years), Junior Choir (8 to 10 years), Small Concert Choir (10 to 13 years) and Concert Choir (13 to 22 years).
Furthermore, the Vokalconsort of the Berlin Girls Choir, in which former singers of the Concert Choir came together, was founded in Fall 2014.
Since then, the realignment under Sabine Wüsthoff comprises also the preparation of participations in competitions, the human relations with other girls choirs within and outside of Germany as well as the involvement in Oratorio performances of Berlin choirs and in projects of the professional Berlin radio choirs and radio orchestras.
During the course of its existence and by having been successful in national and international competitions, its distinctive sound and its efficient stage presence, the Berlin Girls Choir acquired itself a name beyond the municipalitys borders.
The Berlin Girls Choir regularly participates in worship services of the Linden Church – obliged to its provenance and affiliation – and takes part in performances of other choirs of the church district Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf.
European girls choirs – tradition
Whereas boys choirs can look back onto a history of more than 1000 years and performed in public since the beginning, girls choirs were only founded in Germany starting around the middle of the 20th century. Choral female vocals were cultivated mainly in convents and were restricted to worship services. Exemptions were the female choirs of the four Venetian orphanages for girls which yet in the 16th century put an aim on the musical training of their students. They gave regular public concerts to earn a living, however protected from the views of the listeners. The high level that was achieved thereby can be seen among others by the works of Antonio Vivaldi, Johann Adolph Hasse or Niccolo Porpora, who composed them for the Venetian singers.
Even Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was enthusiastic about the virtuosity of the Venetian girls choirs which he experienced during his journey through Italy (1786 to 1788) and wrote about in his diaries. But still we can read in his novel „Die Wahlverwandtschaften“ of 1809, Chapter 17: „But with a number of girls one cannot form a choir as with a number of boys.“
For many centuries, girls and women did not have any socially accepted possibility to sing in public. This was considered as indecent. This moral attitude was kept until the late 19th century. Thus, not only the Venetian girls hat to vow to step back from any singing activities when they left school, but also the famous Hamburg Female Choir, Johannes Brahms liked so much to work with, rehearsed and experimented only in private and actually belonged to a choir of mixed voices.
Even young girls did not perform in public for a long time or could only sing in mixed (children’s) choirs. But today, educational and musical reasons mainly speak in favour to educate girls and boys voices separately, as they develop completely different. For the past 30 years, the Berlin Girls Choir as choir school of the musical school City-West has been fulfilling this task in Berlin.