Life of a Canterbury Cathedral Chorister

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Mugamba Wilkins is not the average 10-year-old boy. As a chorister for the Canterbury Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, Wilkins along with the 30 boys and 12 professional singers form the prestigious English choir, whose voices grace the cathedral and all the places they travel to around the world.

The choir performed at University Christian Church on Thursday as part of its national tour that will continue through many more states. Spending time on the road means seeing new places.

For Wilkins, his favorite part of Fort Worth was seeing all the views of the city and the buildings that are so different from England.

“I do get homesick from time to time, but I like being independent from my parents, he said.  “I like going around buying stuff on my own and doing sort of whatever I like to do.”

The boys join the choir when they are 8 years old, but are selected at 7 years old, Dr. David Flood, master of choristers, said. For five years, the boys live in the cathedral choral house and attend St. Edmund’s School, while they receive musical training through singing and theory classes, as well as learning two instruments.

“It’s a lot of work and you have to crack down and concentrate most of the time, Wilkins said. “It’s quite tricky at first, but you get used to it and I enjoy it.”

The Canterbury Cathedral serves as the seat of the Episcopal Church worldwide, Flood said. For this reason, the choir usually recieves more people at the audtion than it has places to fill.

The boys are usually spotted by a parent or teacher and are encouraged to audition, he said.

“Someone finds there’s this little kind of flash in his personality and they think its worth while trying,” he said.

There is no musical training required before the audition, he said. As the master of the choristers, he looks for musical potential which he can expand through training.

“Once we are all together we can achieve the most amazing music, which impresses everyone from all over the world,” Flood said. “It’s a great privilege for us to come out here and sing for [Fort Worth] and where we’ve never been before.”

After the five years with the choir, the boys are very proficient in music, he said. Many tend to win music and academic scholarships to their next schools.

The concert at UCC was the last stop for the choir in Texas. The national tour will continue along the West Coast through California, Oregon and Washington.

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