BBC announces winter choral programming

Category: Radio 3
BBC Radio 3 announces the launch of a nation-wide Christmas carol competition alongside a raft of autumnal choral initiatives. These include a global choral project that launches on UN Peace Day (21 September 2014); a Mary Poppins sing-along and BBC Radio 3 and BBC Four coverage of Choir Of The Year 2014.
  • BBC Radio 3’s Breakfast show launches Christmas carol competition with a specially written poem by Susan Hill
  • Master of the Queen’s Music and Associate Composer BBC Singers, Judith Weir, to be on the judging panel for carol competition
  • BBC Four and BBC Radio 3 to broadcast Choir Of The Year
  • BBC Radio 3’s The Choir to stage an event to mark global choral peace project One Day One Choir
  • BBC Singers celebrate their 90th birthday with a four-hour takeover of BBC Radio 3

BBC Radio 3 today [Thursday 28 August] announces the launch of a nation-wide Christmas carol competition alongside a raft of autumnal choral initiatives, including a global choral project launching on UN Peace Day 21 September 2014, a Mary Poppins sing-along and BBC Radio 3 and BBC Four coverage of Choir of the Year 2014.

BBC Radio 3’s Breakfast Carol Competition launches today, as listeners are challenged to compose a brand new Christmas Carol to be performed by the BBC Singers live on BBC Radio 3. Setting the words of a specially commissioned poem from acclaimed author Susan Hill, entries can be written in any style, but must be either a cappella or with a piano accompaniment. Six carols will be shortlisted by a panel including the Master of the Queen’s Music and Associate Composer with the BBC Singers, Judith Weir, and Chief Conductor of the BBC Singers, David Hill.

The shortlisted carols will be performed live on the BBC Radio 3 Breakfast show on Tuesday 16 December by the BBC Singers, this year celebrating their 90th birthday, before listeners will be asked to vote for their favourite work. The carol receiving the largest number of votes will be performed again live on the Breakfast show on Tuesday 23 December and played on Christmas day on BBC Radio 3.

For more details visit

Can it be true?

by Susan Hill

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

Twelve of the clock 

Twelve of the clock.

The message was heard

On the wind, underground.

Through wires, in dreams

Heard by the fox slinking up to the hens

In the dark

And the wolf prowling near to the sheep,

By the dog as it snarled at

The cat as it sniffed for the mouse

In a hole in the wall of the house.

Heard by the owl with blood on its beak

And the shrew in the ditch.

Heard by the weasel, the ferret, the stoat,

The terrified rabbit

And the whale and the whaler above in his boat.

Christmas Eve

And twelve chimed the clock when the message was heard.

‘And can it be true?’

Said the fox to the hen to the wolf to the sheep to the dog to the cat to the mouse to the owl to the shrew.

‘And can it be true?’

They said to the weasel and ferret and stoat

And the whale to the man in his boat.

‘And can it be true ?’

‘Come and see for yourself.’

So they went.

The fox with the hen with the wolf with the sheep with the dog with the cat with the mouse with the owl with the weasel and ferret and stoat.

And the whale towed the boat.

Christmas Eve

Twelve of the o'clock

When they came to the stable and saw.

‘It is true! It is true!’

And knelt down.

  • Running alongside the Carol Competition throughout autumn and winter are a raft of choral projects: One Day One Choir is a choral project which aims to unite people in communities all around the world by singing together on Peace Day and in the week leading up to it. From schools and concert halls to community centres, public spaces, religious buildings, theatres, offices, airports or hotels, groups are encouraged to come together to sing. They can either create something new or dedicate a pre-arranged performance to peace - peace at home, in our communities and around the globe. The project aims to bring more people on board each year so that by 2018 it will be the largest choral event in the world, all singing for peace. BBC Radio 3 will host a special One Day One Choir event in the piazza at New Broadcasting House on the UN’s International Day of Peace, Sunday 21 September, recorded specially for The Choir.
  • Choir Of The Year is the UK’s largest and most prestigious competition of its kind, attracting the very best amateur groups who compete for the number one accolade in choral singing. Throughout 2014 a team of expert singing judges have scoured the UK seeing over 150 choirs of every size and style, with singers of all ages from 6-80+. Now just 16 finalists remain and will battle it out to win the coveted title of Choir Of The Year 2014. BBC Radio 3 will cover both the Category Finals and Final, and the Final will be recorded and broadcast in a special Choir of the Year 2014 programme on BBC Four.
  • This year the BBC Proms is celebrating 50 years since the release of Disney classic Mary Poppins with a sing-along Mary Poppins medley at the Last Night Of The Proms and Proms In The Park events around the UK on Saturday 13 September. To take part, members of the public have been invited to record videos of themselves singing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and to send them to the BBC Proms using the details provided on the BBC Proms website by Sunday 31 August. The videos will be edited together to create a virtual choir and the finished results will be revealed online and in the Parks around the UK during the Last Night Of The Proms on Saturday 13 September.
  • As the BBC Singers celebrate their 90th birthday in 2014, they dive into their rich back-catalogue of commissions for a very special ‘Singers at Six’ concert featuring music from Tippett to Tavener, conducted by three of their named conductors, Stephen Cleobury, Bob Chilcott and Paul Brough, at St Giles’ Cripplegate (24 September). Broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and presented by Petroc Trelawny, the concert launches four hours of airtime dedicated to the BBC Singers. Later in the evening, the BBC Singers join forces with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and soprano Pumeza Matshikiza at the Barbican Hall for the world premiere of Kevin Volans’s The Mountain That Left, written specially for the birthday occasion.

Terms and Conditions for the BBC Radio 3 Breakfast Carol Competition can be found here