A youngster from Southsea has earned a place in Salisbury Cathedral Choir, one of the country’s leading Cathedral Choirs.
Seven year old Zeeshan Mahmud, who was determined to follow in his sister’s footsteps and become a Cathedral chorister, is one of eleven youngsters from Years 3 and 4 to have gained places in Salisbury Cathedral Choir and Chorister Scholarships to Salisbury Cathedral School following recent Voice Trials.
Zeeshan will join the choir as a Probationer Chorister in April and will be joined in September five other boys: Jack Maltby from Pitton Primary in Salisbury, Rory Law from Sutton Veny Primary School in Warminster and two pupils from the Cathedral School, Theo Price and Kavan Sathish.
It takes about a year for Probationers to become full Choristers but they are very swiftly absorbed into the team, becoming part of the 900-year-old musical tradition at the Cathedral, singing at selected services and concerts during their training. Zeeshan will have to learn how to organise his time because a Chorister’s life is a busy one and sports, music and all the other activities of school life must be fitted in around singing.
Salisbury Cathedral was the first to admit girls to its Choir in 1991. The Cathedral Choir, unlike many other Cathedrals Choirs with girls and boys choirs, offers equality of experience for both, with equal Choir duties and funding. This year the six girls joining the Choir come from far and wide. Matilda Budd from Sutton Coldfield has been offered a place, alongside Emma Wyse from Sherborne House, Chandlers Ford and Isabel Moss, who is currently at school in Kensington, West London. Other girls living locally to the Cathedral are Rosie Bennett from Downton, Alice Hubbard from Calne and Mary Oliver, who is already at the Cathedral School.
David Halls, Director of Music at Salisbury Cathedral is delighted with his new recruits:
“This year around sixty children came to our Be a Chorister For A Day event, which means that awareness of the opportunities offered by the Choir is high. We were really pleased with the outcome of the Voice Trials and there are some very promising young singers coming through.
“It’s also a relief to reach this point. The Choir never stands still. Children move on to senior schools and boys’ voices break, so we lose the depth and experience in the Choir every year and each time you wonder whether you’ll be able to rebuild the team. You always do, of course, but you can’t afford to be complacent. We are fortunate here in Salisbury that we have singers keen to rise to the challenge and eager to reap the rewards. Being part of a choir is great fun and a great learning experience.”
Coming from a very underprivileged and disadvantaged background this is huge achievement for anyone from our family or our community, especially for Zeeshan. Zeeshan is presently a probationer at the Portsmouth Cathedral, where he nurtured his love of choral music. He is also a member of our local Kings Youth Theatre, Swimming Club, Portsmouth FC Youth Club, Scouts, and Badminton. He currently plays three musical instruments, which include the Piano, Cello and Guitar.
Here are some Q&A’s from Zeeshan
What are your favourite subjects and why? Mathematics is my favorite subject because it is just so fascinating for me to work with numbers. I absolutely love working with numbers because it allows me to think outside the box and solve difficult problems.
What sports do you enjoy? I really enjoy rounders as it involves working really hard on your own as well as part of a team, and of course it is really fun too! I am also member of my local youth football club which is run by Portsmouth FC. With my family I enjoy badminton and swimming as it allows me to my put energy to great use!
Music and instruments? I just love singing and this is why I am already a Chorister at the Portsmouth Cathedral. When I am singing in the choir I feel very peaceful and united as one. I want to ensure I become a world class chorister one day. Coming from a Muslim background it is really unusual to have such an ambition but I wish to be the first well known Muslim chorister. I have been to choir residential courses run by the RSCM which I have loved. I am learning to play the Piano and would love to progress onto playing the Organ like my sister. I am also learning the cello and guitar. I love listening to music especially Classical Music. One of my favourite radio stations has to be Classical FM which is where I go when I am bored!
Performances and Drama? As a Chorister of course I have to perform many times a week in Cathedral services and I love it. I also love stage acting and this is why I am a member of my local youth theatre group – Kings Theatre. I was Pawn One in the Alice in Wonderland show in July and was handpicked to take part on the world class Madame Butterfly opera show to play the role of Madame Butterfly’s son. https://www.portsmouth.
Community and Charity? I have taken part in lots of charity fundraising events in school, and raised money for charities like the Children in Need. I am looking forward to doing some fun fundraising initiatives during this year’s Sports Relief.
Interests. I love reading because when I get into a book, I can imagine being in a new world and it feels like I am the main character. I am presently reading the Choir by Joanna Trollope, which is proving to be a difficult read but one that I hope will provide some exciting facts about the life of choristers. One of my all-time favourite books has to be The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, because of its many impressive morals; such as spirituality, forgiveness, family, good vs evil and courage. Books like those inspire me to reach for the sky!
Who is greatest inspiration/hero and why? I know it may seem a little strange but it has to be the police, because they put themselves in harmsway to make our lives safer and happier. This is why I’d love to have a similar job when I grow up, where I can help people and keep them safe.