The Berlin State and Cathedral Choir is considered one of the most renowned boys’ choirs in Germany. It is the oldest musical establishment in Berlin. As early as 1465, Elector Frederick II of Brandenburg introduced five ‘choir boys’ for music in the so-called ‘Dhumkerke’. Approximately 100 years later, the establishment of the court chapel – under the direction of Johannes Eccard – signalled the first blossoming of a choir that had now grown to include 12 singers.
The ensemble only found international acclaim in the 19th century under the direction of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Otto Nicolai and August Neithardt. Following the end of the First World War and the demise of the monarchy, the previously very successful State and Cathedral Choir had lost its political and financial base. In 1923, and as the ‘State and Cathedral Choir of Berlin’, it was associated with the State University for Music (‘Staatliche Hochschule für Musik’), which today is known as the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK).
From the early 1930s, the National Socialist influence on this ensemble increased. The choir’s location following the Second World War reflected the ‘island situation’ facing West Berlin during the Cold War. Deprived of its real workplace, the choir had to resort to using other churches in the city, while at the same time fulfilling the role of ambassador for a divided Germany as it gave international concert tours. Following the fall of the Wall, it has once again been performing in Berlin Cathedral since 1990. Concert tours have taken it to many countries in Europe, as well as the USA, Japan, Russia and Israel.
In addition to numerous awards and prizes, including the German Choir Competition, the choir was awarded the European Youth Choir Culture Award in 2002, and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2006. The members of the ensemble enrich the Berlin music scene with their appearances in productions at the opera houses, and by participating in concerts at the Berlin Philharmonie.