Leipzig's St. Thomas boys' choir was established in 1212 because of a requirement for pupils fortunate enough to attend St. Thomas School to contribute to the sacred music in the monastery. The foundation was validated by the seal of the Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV of Brunswick.
After the dissolution of the monastery during the Reformation, the choir was administered by the city of Leipzig. For almost 30 years it was directed by Johann Sebastian Bach when he was cantor of St. Thomas Church. Today's Thomanerchor is a mixed choir of around 100 boys (aged up to 18), around double its size in Bach's day. The repertoire's focus is still on sacred music, in particular Bach's cantatas, motets and oratorios. Since 1920 the sailor-suited boys have also performed abroad. In Leipzig they normally sing three times a week at St. Thomas Church: on Fridays and Saturdays with the Gewandhaus Orchestra, and during Sunday services. Alumni include many professional singers and musicians including pop stars.