Ann Burgess from Somerset wins Radio 3 Breakfast Carol Competition

BBC Radio 3 today announced the winning carol in its nation-wide Breakfast Carol Competition. Radio 3 listeners voted for their favourite carol from a shortlist of six, electing Ann Burgess’s setting of Roger McGough’s poem Comes The Light as the winner.

Published: 23 December 2015
Ann Burgess’s carol was fresh and new, bringing a unique new slant onto the traditional Christmas Carol.
— David Hill, Chief Conductor, BBC Singers

David Hill, BBC Singers Chief Conductor, who chaired the judging panel, said: “Each of the finalists have created such unique and different compositions which were a joy to perform, and I am sure Radio 3 listeners had a hard time choosing between them. Ann Burgess’s carol was fresh and new, bringing a unique new slant onto the traditional Christmas Carol.”

Hundreds of entries were received for the competition and shortlisted by a panel including composer Judith Weir and David Hill, Chief Conductor of the BBC Singers, before listeners voted for their favourite carol from a shortlist of six works.

The six shortlisted composers were:

  • Ann Burgess from Somerset
  • Julie Cane from Kent
  • Martin Carling from North Yorkshire
  • Diana Hamilton from the Isle of Arran in Scotland
  • Alec McGregor from Leicester
  • Michael Silk from Essex

The BBC Singers, directed by David Hill, performed the winning carol live on BBC Radio 3 Breakfast this morning, and the carol will be played throughout Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The six shortlisted carols are available to listen to and download at bbc.co.uk/radio3.

Composer Biography:

Ann Burgess

Ann Burgess was born in Leeds, and read Music at Edinburgh University, where she studied with Kenneth Leighton. Her younger brother, William Walls, was an organ scholar at Christ’s College, Cambridge, but died at the age of 32, following which she worked hard at organ playing – it was the only thing he had ever asked her to do – and was awarded an Associate Diploma of the Royal College of Organists in 2002.

She is now Director of Music at Christ Church, Frome, a piano teacher, accompanist and continuo player, and she sings alto in the Christ Church Singers chamber choir. She has three sons and enjoys growing vegetables, cooking and knitting.

Comes The Light, By Roger McGough

Follow the star’s beckoning light
Break the silence of the night
Gently open the cattle-shed door
See the baby lying in straw
Sing out for the mother and the child she bore
Sing out for the mother and the child she bore.
Sing out for the earth, its health and renewal
Its wealth universal, equally shared
Through winter’s darkness, bleak and cruel
Comes the light, sing out and be heard.

Sing out...
For those with faith and those without
For those who hope and those who doubt
For those who mock, lay waste and fight
For those who would put out the light
Sing out...

Follow the shepherds’ marvelling gaze
Echo their wonder, join in their praise
Annus mirabilis, who can ignore
A miracle like this with love at its core
Sing out for the mother and the child she bore
Sing out for the mother and the child she bore.

Sing out for the earth, its health and renewal
For the birth of our saviour, the Jesus boy
Through winter’s darkness, bleak and cruel
Comes the light, sing out for joy.

VT2