REGENSBURG, Germany — The world-famous Regensburg Domspatzen cathedral choir high school will open to female students in 2022 and will have a girls’ choir. The status of the Domspatzen as the cathedral choir and as a pure boys’ choir will remain unaffected by the change, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA.

The cathedral chapter and the bishop support the plan. The school has been run by a woman for the past 18 months.

Cathedral choirmaster Christian Heiss said June 15 that the aim was to create an additional pillar for cathedral music in Regensburg. The tradition of the boys’ choir, which goes back more than 1,000 years, will continue. At the same time, the admission of girls beginning in September 2022 could provide fresh impetus in many aspects, he added.

“After a certain development phase, the new girls’ choir will meet the highest musical standards,” he said.

The directors believe that the move will also strengthen the tradition of the boys’ choir itself, KNA reported. More and more often, good singers do not attend the Domspatzen high school because they prefer to go to a mixed school. Attendance at the school is a prerequisite for singing in the choir.

The Domspatzen was founded in 975. The name Domspatzen, or Cathedral Sparrows, is considerably more recent. It was first used in press reports about a trip of the choir to Prague, Czech Republic, in 1910. The current Domspatzen high school was set up in 1948.

The choir was led by Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, the brother of retired Pope Benedict XVI, from 1964 until 1994. Msgr. Ratzinger died in 2020 at the age of 96.