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Q&A with Churchie student, St John’s Cathedral chorister and water polo champion, Thomas Holdt

Spotlight Q&A

Meet Thomas Holdt and find out why he loves being a Cathedral chorister and a Churchie student, and about his favourite scripture, what person of faith inspires him the most, his thoughts on Reconciliation and the best advice he has ever received from his mum

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How long have you been involved in the Anglican Church and in what roles?

I joined St John the Baptist Anglican Church in Bulimba upon arriving in Australia from South Africa in 2014. In 2021 I became a chorister at St John’s Cathedral. I am also a student at Churchie.

What do these roles involve?

As a chorister, we rehearse four times during the week and alternate singing between one and two Sunday services fortnightly. During Easter and Christmas these rehearsals and services increase significantly. During rehearsals we practise the music for the service while learning about the music and the composers.

Student in uniform and a lay woman chaplain outside a Cathedral

Dedicated Churchie Lay Minister, Chaplain Steph Cotroneo, with Cathedral chorister Thomas Holdt outside St John’s Cathedral before rehearsals on Thursday 6 June 2024

What projects or activities have you been working on in your chorister role?

After our very busy Easter schedule we prepared for the Ascension Day mass, which took place on Thursday 9 May 2024.

What do you like most about being a chorister?

I really enjoy the repertoire that we sing during special services. I also enjoy it when we record pieces, including the Langlais mass and the Rheinberger that we often sing. Running around with my friends is also a weekly highlight.

Boy choristers singing in a Cathedral

Thomas Holdt singing in St John’s Cathedral with other choristers in 2022

What would you say to other boys thinking about being a chorister?

Being a chorister requires time and dedication to the programme. However, if this dedication is given, you will be amazed at how your singing and musical knowledge grow throughout your journey as a chorister. It is a very unique opportunity in Australia. There are not many Cathedrals running a programme like this.

What has been one of the highlights of your time in your chorister role so far?

Going on a chorister tour to Sydney was definitely one of my highlights being a chorister. We sang in many churches and stayed with the choristers of St Andrew’s Cathedral. Swimming at Manly was great because it was freezing water and we were all joking around before a serious Evensong.

What do you love most about being a Churchie student?

Churchie is an amazing school in so many ways for so many different people. I really like being part of the GPS tennis, water polo and basketball teams and playing against other schools. There is a massive lively music department and I get to play my trombone in one of the bands. There are many opportunities to get involved in service to the community through different projects set up in your Houses. In class we also have so many interesting and fun subjects. I have really enjoyed HPE this term as well as Drama, Science and Design and Technology. It feels great to be a part of Churchie and I am very thankful for the opportunity.

Young teenage boy paying tennis

Thomas Holdt playing tennis for Churchie in 2023

How does your Christian faith inspire you and shape your outlook, life choices and character?

My Christian faith makes me grateful for everything I see around me, including nature and humankind. To be able to give thanks to my Creator and having someone to look to for help are extremely mentally soothing in my life.

What is your favourite scripture and why?

I know most of the Bible through the pieces and hymns that I sing. My favourite is The Magnificat (Mary’s Song of Praise), which is based on Luke 1.46-55, because it is all about being grateful and rejoicing to God.

What person of faith inspires you the most and why?

C.S. Lewis. He wrote such a great series of books and brought the Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection to life through a fictional novel that millions of people have read — The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

A baby wearing white at his baptism

Churchie student Thomas Holdt was baptised on Easter Day at Trinity Anglican Church, Pretoria, South Africa in 2013

Why is it important for school students to commemorate National Reconciliation Week annually?

Reconciliation is important because we need to acknowledge the mistakes made in the past so that we can make sure that they don’t happen again. It’s a time to say sorry and to plan for a better future. School children are the future so they need to be an active part of Reconciliation.

What is the bravest or kindest gesture you have ever received or witnessed?

When I ran cross country, I felt really sick and a group of my friends held back and ran the race and finished the race with me. That really helped me over the line!

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received and who gave you this advice?

“Be aware”. My mum gave this piece of advice to me. If we put more effort into being aware of the people and the world around us, there would be a lot less hurtfulness, a lot less destruction and a lot more gratefulness.

What do you do in your free time to recharge and relax?

I play table tennis, basketball and tennis with my dad. I also enjoy family board games.

Young family of three children and two parents near the beach

Churchie student Thomas Holdt enjoys spending time with his siblings and parents outdoors in his free time

Where do you do your best thinking?

On the couch at home. It’s comfortable and relaxing!

What is your earliest memory?

I remember digging in my parents’ garden in South Africa. I thought that I was being helpful!

If you are having a bad day, what do you do to cheer yourself up?

I play sport to get my mind off of things.

What is your secret skill?

Building cubby-houses with my sister.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not rehearsing for the choir?

I am passionate about water polo, basketball and tennis. My water polo team won the Water Polo Queensland State Titles. I am the goal keeper. I also play my trombone in a band at school and keep busy with school work. I really enjoy beach days, hiking and being with my family.

Boy saving a water polo goal

Churchie student Thomas Holdt saving a goal against a tough Sydney opposition team at Nationals in 2024

What’s your unanswerable question — the question you are always asking yourself?

What colours do I see that others can’t see? I am colour blind and we get told that we “can’t” see certain colours, but I wonder what colours I can see that other people can’t see. My colour-blind brother and I don’t even see the same colours.

Editor’s note: If you would like to find out more about joining the St John’s Cathedral Choristers, please contact Dr Graeme Morton via

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