"LEIPZIG, Germany — For 800 years, the St. Thomas Boys Choir has been filling churches with pure, young voices. Now it’s confronting a confounding phenomenon: Every year, those voices are cracking with teenage angst just a little earlier than before."
"Other boys choirs have been noticing it, too, as an unrelenting march of puberty sweeps voices into rebellion. Over recent decades, the already-short careers of their sopranos have started to end between six months and a year earlier, challenging them at times such as Easter, for which choral music such as J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion was written with difficult lines for boys free of hormonal woes. ...
The changes introduce an artistic conundrum to the hotly disputed studies of puberty, which some data indicate is starting earlier in girls, at least in the United States. Less attention has been focused on boys. Hypotheses about possible causes of earlier puberty in girls include improved nutrition, increased obesity, exposure to chemicals that mimic estrogen and changes in social pressures."
Michael Birnbaum reports for the Washington Post April 7, 2012.