THE first female alto vicar choral has been appointed at a cathedral in Somerset.

Natalie Manning is the first woman ever to be given a full time position in Wells Cathedral Choir, since the choir began more than 1,100 years ago.

She currently sings in The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge, under Stephen Layton, where she is choir administrator.

Natalie was a professional singer and high school choral director in her hometown of Dallas, Texas, before she moved to the UK.

“I am so excited to have been appointed the newest alto vicar choral at Wells Cathedral, and especially to be the first woman in the role in the cathedral choir’s long history," she said.

"I look forward to arriving in Wells as its musical life emerges from the silence of the pandemic, and to be living and working among the people who make the Wells community exceptional.

"I’m so thankful for my time in Trinity with Stephen Layton, who has been instrumental in shaping my experience in the UK so far, and I’m looking forward to taking everything I’ve learned in Cambridge to my new role in Wells.”

Somerset County Gazette: NEW ROLE: Natalie Manning

Natalie graduated from the University of North Texas in 2016, with a double Bachelors of Music in vocal performance and music education.

She fell in love with Anglican choral music while singing in her home parish, the Episcopal Church of Incarnation.

After moving to the UK in 2019, she completed a Masters in choral studies at the University of Cambridge.

Wells Cathedral’s director of music, Jeremy Cole, added: “I am thrilled that Natalie will be joining the choir as a vicar choral.

"She has a wealth of experience as a musician working at the highest level, and will be a brilliant addition to the team here.

"I know that the whole cathedral community will welcome her warmly upon her arrival.”

Wells Cathedral Choir currently consists of 18 boy choristers, 18 girl choristers, and the altos, tenors and basses who comprise nine vicars choral and three choral scholars.

The choir celebrated its 1100th birthday in 2009 and boys first sang at Wells Cathedral in 909. In 1994, girl choristers joined the choir.

Wells Cathedral Choir is at the heart of the worshipping life of the cathedral, and they sing a wide repertoire of music ranging from the Renaissance period to the present day.