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Our vocal department offers unrivalled opportunities to develop as a singer, both as soloists and as members of our world-class choirs.

Each pupil’s voice is nurtured at an appropriate level according to their vocal maturity, with a strong focus on technique, communication and interpretative insight.

At the core of our ethos is an emphasis on the importance of good vocal health and supporting each unique voice at every stage of its development, through a programme individually tailored to support the needs and aspirations of each pupil. The training and experiences we offer prepares pupils for music conservatoires and university choral scholarships; as well as equipping our pupils with the musical skills and mental resources that are needed to be successful in their chosen future careers.

I have always enjoyed my visits to coach individual singers at the school and it goes without saying that the standard is extremely high; but it’s also a strikingly creative and happy atmosphere, and I cannot think of a better place for aspiring singers to grow, first their musicianship, and then their voices, at a natural rate.

Emma Kirkby DBE, soprano soloist

There are two programmes designed for vocalists at Wells:

Specialist Scheme: For pupils of remarkable potential, with appropriate vocal maturity and a desire to dedicate themselves to the study of classical singing. This pathway is predominantly aimed at pupils in the Sixth Form. In exceptional cases, we will consider applications from pupils from age 14 upward.

Vocal Scholar Programme: For pupils who are serious about singing but who are younger or less experienced performers – this programme is particularly suited to former choristers, whose ensemble skills will be extended whilst allowing time and space for their own voice to change and blossom. Vocal Scholars will have a nurturing and supportive programme constructed to match their specific interests and level of vocal maturity to best develop their voice. There will be an inevitable emphasis on choral music, but singers with all aspirations and interests, including music theatre and commercial/jazz performance, will be welcome.

In addition to these specific programmes, we actively encourage pupils from any area of the school to engage with singing, through individual singing lessons and/or membership of an appropriate choral ensemble.

What We Offer

  • Training from internationally respected teachers, who combine their wealth of teaching experience with notable performing careers.
  • Up to two hours per week of individual vocal lesson, with additional tuition in a second study.
  • Regular masterclasses from internationally renowned singers.
  • Weekly vocal performance class, incorporating performance coaching, contextual studies, historically informed performance practice, and supportive study skills (including sight-reading and aural skills).
  • Participation in the School’s superb, internationally prize-winning choral groups.
  • Opportunities to enter regional and national competitions, often with great success.
  • Experience of performing alongside professional choral groups and their esteemed conductors.
  • Thorough preparation for music college and choral scholarship auditions.
  • Performance opportunities ranging from regular informal concerts and termly vocal platform concerts; to professional solo engagements and large scale ensemble concerts in major venues such as Symphony Hall Birmingham, St David’s Hall, Cardiff and live broadcasts for BBC Radio 3.
  • Regular international tours; most recently to Hong Kong, China, Holland and Luxembourg.
  • Observation of world-class music, both in our own concert venue and through attendance at external concerts and opera performances.
  • Opportunities to participate in workshops and performance in jazz, commercial and music theatre genres. This includes performance opportunities with our Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Ensembles (auditioned), and as a member of the cast in our excellent productions.

Ensembles and Performances

What makes this chorus special is the vitality and joy that illuminates its singing.

(Fanfare, USA)

It’s impossible to express too emphatically just how good the girls of the Wells Cathedral School Choralia sound.


About our Ensembles

Chamber Choir

  • Auditioned 18 voice SATB vocal consort (usually Sixth Form).
  • Has Broadcast for the BBC, toured China, Namibia and Holland, and performed at Bath International Festival and Cheltenham Music Festival.
  • Collaborated with professional vocal ensembles, recently including Tenebrae and Royal Holloway Choir.


  • Auditioned internationally award-winning 24 member upper voice choir (Years 10-13).
  • Broadcast globally.
  • Regular contributors to BBC Radio 3’s ‘The Choir’ programme. Debut CD (released by Naxos) critically acclaimed in publications across the world, including Gramophone ‘Editor’s’ Choice’ accolade.
  • Have performed at Milton Court London, Sage Gateshead, St George’s Bristol, LSO St Luke’s.
  • Have performed with City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong and London Contemporary Orchestra.
  • Frequent international tours.

Chapel Choir/Chorus

  • Non-auditioned large SATB Choir.
  • Weekly rehearsal and evening services in the Cathedral.
  • Predominantly liturgical and sacred concert repertoire.
  • Recent highlights include performances of Haydn Nelson Mass, Mozart Requiem, Rutter Requiem (conducted by John Rutter), Bernstein Chichester Psalms, Orff Carmina Burana, and a concert performance of Bizet’s Carmen (conducted by Charles Hazlewood).

Senior Stylists

  • Auditioned 8 voice senior male vocal ensemble, specialising in close harmony and modern a cappella repertoire.
  • (Usually Sixth Form).


  • Open to all male vocalists in Years 10-Upper Sixth.
  • Very popular with audiences and members alike!

Junior Choralia 

  • Open to all girls in Years 7-9.
  • Weekly rehearsals and three performances a year.


The ensemble for young men in Years 7-10, to support and encourage them through vocal change.

The Wellensian Consort (alumni ensemble)

Uniquely the vocal department also runs an alumni ensemble, The Wellensian Consort. Founded to celebrate the school’s 1100 year anniversary in 2009, it offers support to a number of vocal pupils in the early years of their careers. Since winning BBC Choir of the Year in 2010, it has forged a reputation as one of this country’s leading young chamber choirs.

Some of our Performances

Meet our Staff

Staff Structure

Christopher Finch, Co-ordinator of Vocal and Choral Studies

Christopher Finch
Elizabeth Donovan
Louise Innes
Andrew Kidd
Mary Morgan
Richard Rowntree


Christopher Finch
Richard Rowntree
Laurence Whitehead

About some of our specialist staff

Masterclasses and Visiting Artists

Isobel Buchanan
Deryn Edwards
Paul Farrington
Neil Jenkins
Emma Kirkby
Justin Lavender
Rosa Mannion
Gareth Rhys Davies
Anthony Rolfe-Johnson
Stephen Varcoe
David Wilson-Johnson

Rupert Gough
Stephen Cleobury
Stephen Layton
Charles Hazlewood
John Rutter

Latest News

Life After Wells

In the last few years vocal pupils have been successful in gaining places at the following institutions, at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Music College

Juilliard School New York, Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Trinity Laban (Jazz course), Royal Scottish Conservatoire, Royal Northern College of Music and Drama (voice and commercial courses), Amsterdam Conservatorium

University Choral Scholarships

St. John’s College Cambridge, Trinity College Cambridge, King’s College Cambridge (King’s Voices), Jesus College Cambridge, King’s College London, Royal Holloway London

Cathedral Choral Scholarships

Manchester, Durham, Truro, Portsmouth, Hereford, Worcester, Norwich

Some of our Alumni

Music Summer Schools

International Vocal Summer School

Sunday 11th August to Saturday 17th August 2024

Our world-class tutors will help young singers (aged 14-18) develop their skills and confidence in singing as soloists, both within song and early opera repertoire. The focus will be to equip participants with a broad range of technical, musical and dramatic skills that will enable them to connect with the audience by bringing the text, character and context to life.

This course is ideal for aspiring young soloists preparing to embark on study at music conservatoires (age 16-18) and slightly younger singers seeking to break free from the choir stalls to explore the incredible world of solo performance.

£995 boarding and £795 day

Join our Vocal and Choral Department

His Majesty King Charles III retains Patronage of Wells Cathedral School
We are delighted that His Majesty King Charles III will remain the Patron of Wells Cathedral School.

Find out more