Listeners and budding composers across the country are invited to write a brand new Christmas Carol, as the BBC Radio 3 Breakfast Carol Competition launched on Wednesday 5 September. The 2018 competition challenges amateur composers to create a brand new carol for SATB choir (a cappella or with piano accompaniment) set to the words of a poem by Britain’s Poet Laureate, Dame Carol Ann Duffy. The text was revealed during Radio 3 Breakfast on Wednesday 5 September, read by actress Anne Reid.
Entries will be judged by an expert panel chaired by composer Bob Chilcott (Principal Guest Conductor, BBC Singers), Judith Weir (Master of the Queen’s Music), Jonathan Manners (Producer, BBC Singers), Robin Tyson (Edition Peters) and Rebecca Lea (Soprano, BBC Singers).
The six shortlisted carols will be performed live on BBC Radio 3’s Breakfast programme in the lead up to Christmas by the BBC Singers, directed by Bob Chilcott. The winner will be decided by public vote, as listeners will be able to hear each of the shortlisted carols and vote for their favourite on the Radio 3 website.
The winning carol will be announced and performed live on Breakfast on Friday 21 December and played throughout the Christmas period on Radio 3. The deadline for submissions is 11.59pm on Friday 2 November.
Dame Carol Ann Duffy says: "I’m thrilled that this poem is being used in this way - celebrating two of my favourite things; Bees and Christmas."
The Bee Carol by Carol Ann Duffy
Silently on Christmas Eve, the turn of midnight's key; all the garden locked in ice – a silver frieze – except the winter cluster of the bees.
Flightless now and shivering, around their Queen they cling; every bee a gift of heat; she will not freeze within the winter cluster of the bees.
Bring me for my Christmas gift a single golden jar; let me taste the sweetness there, but honey leave to feed the winter cluster of the bees.
Come with me on Christmas Eve to see the silent hive – trembling stars cloistered above – and then believe, bless the winter cluster of the bees.