St. Thomas Choir of Leipzig (Thomanerchor) is a boys’ choir in Leipzig, Germany founded in 1212. Today, the choir consists of 92 boys from 8 to 18 years of age. The members are Thomaner and live in a boarding school called Thomasalumnat, and attend a Gymnasium school with a focus on musical education.
Johann Sebastian Bach, the famous composer, served as Thomaskantor, director of the choir from 1723 to 1750.
The main musical theme is the vocal works of Bach, but there are also chants from different periods of history – from the Renaissance to contemporary age. Georg Christoph Biller is the 16th Thomaskantor since Bach.
The boys are separated in Stuben, which is a sleeping room, administrative area and home for the boys. Stubens are divided into age groups and only 5 teachers look after 90 children because the older students are expected to be like “big brothers”. The Stuben has locked wardrobes and one table for each boy. There are furnishings like shelves for books, newspapers, and son as well as plants, chairs and radios. Televisions and computers are not allowed and every room has about 10 beds.
The Thomasalumnat is a gym, rehearsal hall, and dining room where the boys eat three times a day. There is a shop where the tailor sews the boys’ suits for concerts; an archive; a wing for the teachers’ quarters (those that live there); a room for the band, a model railway room, a fitness room, a living room for older boys, a “press room” for the school’s newspaper, a sauna, a library with computers and internet, an infirmary, and a television room. Restrooms are communal and located on the hallway of the Stube.
The Thomanerchor performs in concerts all over Germany and elsewhere, with at least two big tours per year. The choir also sings at Protestant festivities. The choir also sings three times a week in the Thomaskirche. The children have vacations during the summer school vacations.
The tour of 2011 represented the choir’s 800th year.
St. Thomas priory was founded by Margrave of Meissen for Augustinian Canons in 1212. A school was built next to the monastery for training future priests. During the Reformation in 1539, the school and choir belong to the city of Leipzig, which is also influenced by the Protestant Church of Saxony. It’s the oldest cultural establishment in the city and one of the oldest in Europe still operating. When Johann Sebastian Bach served as a director, the choir only had 16 boys. After Bach’s death, other famous musicians served as director, among them Doles, Hiller, and Moritz Hauptmann.
At the end of the 19th century, the Thomasschule next to the Thomaskirche was demolished and the choir moved to Hiller Street location, now called the Music Quarter.
During the era of the Nazi regime, the choir was incorporated into the Hitler Jugend in 1937. Fortunately, the Nazi did not succeed in infiltrating their ideology into the practices of the choir because the director, Ramin, concentrated upon religious works. He also tried to prevent any of the boys of the choir to be enlisted, or at least hold it off as long as possible.
Georg Christoph Biller has been the director since 1992.
A list of the Cantors, as well as films, awards, and recognitions at the Wikipedia entry.
There is also the Bach Choir, a large chorus, based in London, England, is an independent organization promoting concerts in London and other places. Its patron is the Prince of Wales and founded in 1875.
The following video is a performance of Gloria in Excelsis Deo.