June 23, 2005

Via A Cappella News:

A Texas 17-year-old has been denied the opportunity to audition for a statewide music festival as a soprano, despite the fact that his voice really is that high. Boys are allowed to audition only for the traditional male parts -- tenor and bass -- and any young man who has a higher voice is out of luck.

The organizers might be able to make a case that the countertenor voice is different enough in weight and timbre that it would be difficult for him to blend with the rest of the sopranos in the festival chorus (though the director at his high school doesn't seem to have had any problem), but have instead chosen a significantly weaker argument, claiming that it is damaging for young singers to sing so far outside their "natural" range. Well, yes, it can be, if singers actually are being forced out of their range -- many young sopranos who read music well are often made to sing the more difficult alto parts, for instance -- but that doesn't seem to be the case here.

A foolish decision, and rooted, I fear, in sexism and homophobia. Can't have boys running around singing like girls, after all; no telling what ideas that might give 'em.

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