Last Days of Choir

For the past eight years, the Nash family have made Portsmouth their home. Music and the Portsmouth Cathedral Choir have been a part of the rhythm of life for brothers, and choristers, Oliver and Ben. This past Christmas, Oliver Nash completed his tenure as Head Chorister with the Portsmouth Cathedral Choir, and reflected on over seven years of his life as a chorister. His father Phil, a Commander in the Royal Navy based in Portsmouth, also wrote about watching his sons growing up and what the Portsmouth Cathedral Choir has meant to their family.

"Seven years I have been a chorister. Hundreds of morning rehearsals, services – evensongs and eucharists – weddings, funerals and tours. The Portsmouth Cathedral Choir has been half my life, literally, and it seemed sad to bring so many experiences to a close. My last days as Head Chorister were spent singing in the Alpe d’Huez. I have sung at St Paul’s, Westminster Abbey, Menin Gate and many other locations, but singing carols in my now-not-so-angelic-voice in the snow and attached to skis will remain one of my fondest memories of my time in choir, if not my life. The opportunities and knowledge earned from everything I had been presented with will remain priceless to me." Oliver Nash

“Children aren’t colouring books. You don’t get to fill them in with your favourite colours.” Those words, written by Khaled Hosseini, have often come back to me in the years since my eldest son, then aged seven, declared that he was going to be a chorister in Portsmouth Cathedral Choir. During those daydream moments that we all have in which we plan out our children’s lives I had not counted life as a chorister amongst the options. But now on Christmas Day, nearly eight years later, and having just watched that same boy finishing his spell as Head Chorister and therefore leaving the choir forever, I could not have imagined a more fulfilling way for my boys to spend their time. My retired Head Chorister is getting to grips with life after the choir and whilst the commitment has gone, the legacy is musicality, whether expressed through formal piano lessons or when trying to decipher an Ed Sheeran song from YouTube and repeating it on a guitar. So, this chorister chapter of our lives has given us much more than we had anticipated. Indeed, whilst I was deployed overseas with the Armed Forces last year I found myself sat in a café in the sunshine, dialled into WiFi in order to listen to my Head Chorister not only sing but also read a speech on Radio 4 as part of the national service to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. So there is no doubt in my mind, it’s a good thing we parents don’t get to choose the colours." Phil Nash