Escolania De Montserrat (Boys' choir and music school)
The boys' choir at the Benedictine monastery of Montserrat is first documented in the year 1307, but its origin goes back without doubt to one of the many church choral schools that existed in Catalonia in the 12th century. The Escolania de Montserrat is certainly Europe's oldest music school whose tradition has been upheld in its original form to the present day.
Over many centuries, the Escolania gave the subsequent choirmasters, organists, musicians and composers of the Catalonian churches their musical training. It produced teachers and composers of renown such as Joan March (1582-1658), Joan Cererols (1618-1680), Josep Marti (1719-1763), Narcis Casanoves (1747-1799) and Fernando Sor (1778-1839), to name just a few of the most famous.
Today, the Escolania has about fifty members between the ages of 10 and 14. Every year, a large number of boys from all over Catalonia take the entrance examinations: in addition to outstanding musicality, above-average intelligence and the completion of a course in sol-fa singing form part of the admission requirements. The boys accepted attend the school for a total of four years.
Once admitted to the Escolania, the boys lead a life similar to that of a boarding-school with a liberal family atmosphere. In addition to personal and intellectual education, the pupils also receive intensive musical training with 2-3 hours of rehearsal work, voice-training and theory of music every day. Besides this, every pupil is taught one instrument, to be selected from: violin, cello, double-bass, flute, oboe, French horn, bassoon and piano. This also means that an orchestra can be formed and concerts given. Two annual concerts have already established themselves in the school's tradition: one at the end of the school year, and another on the feast-day of St Nicholas, the patron saint of the Escolania de Montserrat.