BBC Radio 3’s Breakfast Christmas Carol Competition Returns in 2021

Image: BBC

BBC Radio 3 calls for music lovers and amateur composers to write a tune for Christina Rosetti’s seasonal classic Love Came Down At Christmas.

BBC Radio 3 calls for music lovers and amateur composers to write a tune for Christina Rosetti’s seasonal classic Love Came Down At Christmas as its Breakfast Christmas Carol Competition returns in 2021

Submissions are welcomed in a wide-range of styles and will be judged by a panel chaired by Anna Lapwood, and including Karen Gibson, Reverend Richard Coles, and Jumoké Fashola among others

Shortlisted finalists will have their compositions broadcast on BBC Radio 3

A much-loved annual fixture of BBC Radio 3’s schedule, the Breakfast Christmas Carol Competition returns in 2021, marking in music the countdown to the festive season. This year, Radio 3 is asking music lovers and amateur composers to write a tune setting the words of Victorian poet Christina Rossetti’s Love Came Down At Christmas.

As in 2020, the competition encourages submissions in all musical styles, from gospel to pop; jazz to folk; and beyond – delivered as notated scores or mobile phone-generated voice recordings. Any music lover aged 16+ is able to enter, and all judging is done on the merits of the tunes alone, with the panel given no information about the composers.

In charge of shortlisting the initial entries is a star-studded judging panel which includes The Kingdom Choir founder, conductor and workshop leader Karen Gibson; Church of England parish priest, musician, journalist, and radio presenter Reverend Richard Coles; jazz singer and broadcaster Jumoké Fashola; and BBC Sport commentator and choral music lover Alison Mitchell. It is chaired by organist, conductor and broadcaster Anna Lapwood, currently serving as Director of Music at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

Six entries will be shortlisted to go through to the second phase of the competition, when the successful entrants will have the chance to work with composer and choral director Ken Burton to turn the initial tunes into fully-arranged carols. These six arranged carols will then be performed live by the BBC Singers on BBC Radio 3 Breakfast on Wednesday December 15, opening the public vote. They will be presented across BBC Radio 3 programmes until Tuesday 21 December – when voting closes. The winning carol will be announced in Radio 3’s Breakfast show on Wednesday December 22.

Alan Davey, Controller BBC Radio 3 and classical music said, “It is with great pleasure that we launch the 2021 Breakfast Carol Competition and hope that many listeners will accept our challenge to create a new melody for Rosetti’s beautiful seasonal words. We had more entries than ever in 2020 from a wide range of people all over the country. We hope that even more will be inspired to dedicate time and inspiration to creating tunes and sharing them with us this year.”


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Written by

Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.

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