In the darkest days of winter and at the end of year when the pandemic has brought uncertainty to our lives, BBC Radio 3 presents Light in the Darkness during two weeks in December, exploring the joy of light and the power and strength it brings in times of darkness.

Beginning on St Lucy’s day (Sunday 13 December) – celebrated in Scandinavian countries as the turning point of winter, when days are reaching their shortest – Light in the Darkness celebrates the glory of candlelight, starlight and the fireside, across all cultures and ages, aiming to provide listeners with comfort and inspiration through music and words which highlight the beauty, hope and the solace of light.

From Northern Lights; resplendent Byzantine mosaics; immersive walks at sunrise; essential music for starry nights and ethereal dawns; shimmering choral works; luminous orchestral pieces; musical instruments played by light to explorations of candlelight and signal fires, the Light in the Darkness theme weaves through the schedule as an antidote to the long nights and bleak mood of the nation.

Season highlights include:

  • Afternoon Concert: Professor Brian Cox and the BBC Symphony Orchestra with conductor Dalia Stasevska exploring the Universe through music;
  • Between the Ears: Songs of the Sky featuring the premiere of a piece of music composed using the electromagnetic sound of the Northern Lights;
  • Late Junction: musician and artist Leafcutter Johnperforming with his unique light-controlled interface;
  • Essential Classics: over two weeks, the programme presents musical depictions of sunrise and starlight;
  • Christmas Sunrise walks with Horatio Clare: bringing to life the distinctive luminescence of two remote locations in the East Coast of the UK as lit by the December sunrise;
  • Private Passions: Judith Herrin – Emeritus Professor of Byzantine Studies at King’s College London – explores the dazzling gold of medieval icons and mosaics in the Italian town of Ravenna;
  • Words & Music: an explorations of ideas of light and darkness through literature and music, with works by John Donne, Philip Pullman; Mahler; Brian Eno and more;
  • Slow Radio: a slow radio moment inspired by light from beacons and signal fires;
  • Choral Evensong: a special live edition from Durham Cathedral as a precursor to the season.

Alan Davey, Controller BBC Radio 3 and classical music says: “As the darkness of winter is at its height, made more profound by the pandemic and the resulting challenges we have all faced, BBC Radio 3 celebrates light in music and culture. By interlacing luminous music and illuminating words inspired by light in all its many facets, we aim to bring comfort, inspiration, companionship and a chance to reflect on the magic and power of light at a time when we most need it.”