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David Hill, Music Director of The Bach Choir, has come out strongly against comments from Lesley Garrett, the well-known soprano, who has said that there should no longer be choirs that don’t admit girls.
Ms Garrett, said recently that its time to stop excluding girls and that change to boys only choirs was long overdue and called them “a throwback to a bygone age.” She singled out King’s College Choir, Cambridge, one of Britain’s best-known choirs, for not introducing change and that it should “wake up and listen to the music, with regard to its exclusion of girls.”
David Hill (former Director of Music at Westminster and Winchester Cathedrals and St John’s College, Cambridge) initiated the implementation of Girls’ Choir at Winchester Cathedral. Now The Bach Choir’s Music Director, he commented: “The idea that all choirs should be mixed misses the central point that there is a place for both separate boys’ and girls’ choirs as well as mixed where appropriate.”
“The situation in Cambridge – which reflects what is happening nationwide – is there are only 3 choirs with boys’ and men’s voices. All the other amazing choirs in that city are females and males. This does not in any way represent lack of balance, but the opposite.”
“Removing the boys’ and men tradition would be removing something which is unique in the choral sound world and for which this country is revered. Removing opportunities for boys to sing (you could not double the size of the choirs) would be affecting the future number of tenor, basses and counter-tenors from emerging. That would affect the entire singing industry, including opera for which Lesley is most famous.”
Renowned for his fine musicianship, David Hill is widely respected as both a choral and an orchestral conductor. He became The Bach Choir’s ninth Musical Director in 1998; he is also Associate Guest Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of Leeds Philharmonic Society and Principal Conductor of Yale Schola Cantorum.
Born in Carlisle in 1957, David Hill was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists at the age of 17, and won an organ scholarship to St John’s College, Cambridge where he served under the direction of the late Dr George Guest. Since Cambridge, David has held the posts of Sub-Organist at Durham Cathedral, Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral, Master of Music at Winchester Cathedral, Director of Music at St John’s College, Cambridge, and Chief Conductor of the BBC Singers.