Auditions for Canterbury Cathedral's first girls' choir in over 900 years
Auditions are being held for Canterbury Cathedral's first girls' choir after almost a millennium of male-only choristry.
About 20 girls aged 12 to 16 will form the Canterbury Cathedral Girls' Voluntary Choir.
The choir will initially provide cover at services when the cathedral's boy choristers take their usual breaks.
Forty girls already selected from local secondary schools are being auditioned on Saturday and Sunday.
Cathedral records show its choirs have been male-only for at least 900 years.'Further dimension'
The girls' choir will sing in the cathedral when the boys' choir takes its breaks twice each term.
A spokeswoman said the girls would continue a choral tradition dating back to "the times of St Augustine".
The saint founded the cathedral after he was sent as a missionary by Pope Gregory the Great to Kent in AD597.
The Dean of Canterbury, the Very Reverend Dr Robert Willis, said the girls would "provide a further dimension to the cathedral's worship".
"They will be an exciting addition to the cathedral's long history of musical achievement," he said.
The new choir will start rehearsing in December or January, the spokeswoman said.
The cathedral's male choir is made up of 25 choristers, aged between eight and 13, from Canterbury's St Edmund's School and 12 lay clerks, professional singers who work locally.
The choir will sing at services on six days a week and regularly make recordings and concert appearances.