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 15 December – 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 22 December.

Alan Davey, Controller BBC Radio 3 and classical music  says:  “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.”

Anna Lapwood says: “One of my favourite things about working with composers is watching a piece of music come to life, developing from a small seed of an idea into a fully-formed piece. The Radio 3 Breakfast Carol Competition facilitates that process for so many people from across the UK, and it was so exciting to see the number of carol competition entrants triple last year. This year’s poem is a personal favourite of mine and I hope it might inspire even more people to have a go at writing a carol. I’m particularly excited to be chairing the jury this year – having had Christmas music disrupted for the past two years, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is the year when we can return to hearty carol singing once more!’”

To find out more about how to enter and to submit melodies for BBC Radio 3 Breakfast Carol Competition 2021, music lovers are invited to visit BBC Radio 3 – Breakfast – Radio 3 Christmas Carol Competition 2021 

Entries are now open.