Benjamin, 13, Senior Chorister
Westminster Abbey is a very special place. I grew up in Florence, where my dad was a vicar. When I first came to Westminster, it was one of my first times in London and I thought, “The Abbey is just another building.” I didn’t know what it was. Was I impressed at first? Not really - I was hungry and all I wanted was to go home and have something to eat.
But I soon realised that the Abbey has witnessed so many centuries of history. Kings and Queens have been crowned and buried here. There are memorials to famous poets and artists everywhere. It’s a very grand place indeed.
I go to Westminster Abbey Choir School. It’s a really nice place to be. It’s homely, and it’s not huge. It’s a small community where everyone knows everyone else. Singing in the Abbey is a great experience. We perform at eight services a week and do four concerts a year - they keep us very busy.
The atmosphere makes you feel very special. You’re the centre of focus. You’re helping the congregation, so that everyone can be with God.
I sang at the royal wedding last year. I was pretty nervous about being on television, but I was also excited. At first, it felt strange, as if I had loads of eyes on me. But once we started to sing, I forgot all about that. I find it’s very helpful when you’re exposed like that to think that it’s only you and the choirmaster. Then you tend not to get too nervous or make mistakes.
Another big thing we did was sing a papal mass at the Sistine Chapel in Rome. That was amazing. Some people spend ages queuing up to see the Sistine Chapel for just five minutes. My dad has done that before. But this time he was able to sit there for a whole hour listening to the music and looking at the Chapel.
Sometimes surroundings like that can help you, and sometimes they can be a disadvantage, because you’re too busy looking around to focus on the music. But we all concentrated hard on the singing, and it went really well.
I’ve enjoyed filming the documentary. My family are very proud of me. My 22-year-old sister is very funny about it. She’s always saying, “That’s my brother – he’s on TV.”
When I came to this school, I preferred modern music like the Beatles and Queen. But I’ve grown to accept classical music. It’s part of my daily life.
At first I got a bit homesick, but the other boys helped me get over it. Then a couple of years ago, it just clicked. It was as if I suddenly realised, “Wow, I’m not singing in some modern building. I’m singing in Westminster Abbey, of all places.”