BBC names Montserrat choir one of 10 best singing groups in the world

Ensemble based on Catalonia's most iconic mountain praised for being among the "oldest in Europe"

Choir boys sing in the Montserrat basilica on September 4, 2020 (by Gemma Aleman)
Choir boys sing in the Montserrat basilica on September 4, 2020 (by Gemma Aleman) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

November 24, 2020 01:37 PM

The BBC’s classical music review named the Escolania de Montserrat - a boy’s choir in the Catalan mountain of Montserrat - one of the 10 best choirs in the world.

It praised it as one of the “oldest choirs in Europe”, noting its origins dating back to the 1300s. 

The Escolania perform every day twice a day at the Basilica of Montserrat. As well as this, prior to the coronavirus pandemic they also traveled for concerts and have recorded albums.

The children in the choir are between the ages of 9 and 14.

The history of Montserrat and the Escolania

Montserrat is a multi-peaked mountain range to the east of Barcelona. It is well known for its Santa Maria monastery, where the choir performs in the Basilica. 

Since the monastery’s founding in 1025, it has been a hotspot for pilgrimage, as rumours about miracles performed by the Virgin of Montserrat spread. Nowadays it is also a well-known tourist destination within Catalonia and Spain.

Placed at the geographical heart of Catalonia, the mountain has been one of the most iconic symbols of Catalan identity for centuries.

The Escolania de Montserrat, is a liturgical choir formed mainly from boys in their fourth and fifth year of primary school.

Not only do the choirs’ members sing at the Sanctuary, but they are also educated there in the Benedictine tradition. 

Reaction to the win

“We are impressed to be in this list and it makes us aware of a great responsibility,” stated the Escolania's official social media accounts. They also mentioned they would continue “working to be bringers of peace to everyone who listens.”

Amongst the other choirs mentioned were King’s College Choir Cambridge, St Paul’s Cathedral Choir and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir.