Spanish Boy Choirs

Figure 1.--This is a view of Montserrat (Catalonia) of St Miquel--L'Escolonia.


The boy choir tradition is a European tradition originating in the needs of the medevil church for litugical music. Many countries of Western and Central Europe, have long choral traditions. The strongest tradition is catholic, but boy choirs have also been created in protestant countries. One would think that with this background that there would be a large number of boy choirs in Spain. In actuality there are only a few.


"Escolania" in Spanish means school for singers, usually in a religious environment. It is similar to the French term "Manécanterie".

Individual Choirs

HBC has found information on the following choirs.

La Escolanía "Santo Domingo Savio" de Santander

The director of La Escolanía "Santo Domingo Savio" de Santander was Carlos María Labarta. The choir was organized in 1967. Labarta was a charter member. After a brief period as organista and auxiliary director, Labarta became the director. The choir performed not only in Cantabria, but in many other places in Spain. In Cantabria there were numerous concerts in the Plaza Porticada, as part of the Festival Internacional de Santander. An important perfirmance was at the opening of Misa Polifónica Cántabra by composer M. A. Samperio, in 1982. Outside Cantabria the concerts were diverse: Madrid, Barcelona, Salamanca, Ávila, Burgos, San Sebastián. The Choir wpn twice the First National Prize of Infantile Choirs of RTVE (1976 and 1979). Its more important success was at the the Slovakian city of Bratislava, where in 1979 it won the Prize to the best technique of song, prize to the best solista and the classification in second place, in a contest in which about 50 European choirs participated. The choir closed in 1993.

Escolania of the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial

The Escolania of the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial is an children and educators community, that has as its main purpose the participation in the worship of the Basilica. It is assigned to the Community of Augustinian Friars, who have run the Monastery for over a hundred years. The permanency in the Escolania is in regime of boarding school, occupying one of the floors of the convent, within the very Monastery. The children receive a painstaking musical training: Song, Sol-faing, Instrument (piano, guitar, flute, trumpet...), Choirs's Conduction, History of the Music, etc., by specialized teachers and in close collaboration with the Conservatory "P. Antonio Soler". They study the academic year as sizars at the Royal School Alfonso XII, located in the same building of the Monastery as well. This School was established in 1875 by the king Alfonso XII, from whom the name comes and has been run from the very beginning by the Augustinian Friars. Either it is neglected their human formation, with an integral programme of which the formative team of the Escolania is responsible. This team works hard so that the children acquire from tidiness and self-care habits to the perseverance in their studies and tasks; from the education for the respect, the tolerance and the community life to the maturity in their behaviors, beliefs and religious values.

Escolania of Montserrat (Catalonia) St. Miquel

The college of music, the Escolania on Montserrat with its boys' choir, was first mentioned in the 13th century, but it certainly existed long before that. It ranks as the most significant factor in that heritage and is the most important of the monastery's cultural institutions. The musical daring so beautifully exemplified by Gesualdo's bold chord sequences has always been a dominant feature of cultural life on Montserrat. In the archives of the Benedictine monastery on the "Serrated Mountain*', the very oldest manuscript of all is the "Llibre Vermell" which contains 2- and 3-part songs dating from the 13th and 14th centuries; these pieces reveal an open-minded attitude towards innovations which even in retrospect seems startling. The choir, which has close links with the college of music, has achieved an exceptionally high standard of singing, largely thanks to a method of training the voices, La Voz del nino cantor, developed by Padre Ireneu Segarra; it has also been widely adopted especially in Spain, Italy and France, and is used by the Vienna Boys Choir and the Regensburger Domspatzen.


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Created: December 18, 1999
Last updated: July 9, 2002