BBC Carol Competition 2015

Finalist in BBC Christmas Carol Competition 2015

Our very own Alec McGregor was selected as one of six finalists in the BBC 2015 Christmas Carol Competition! Keyworth Choir will be celebrating this fantastic achievement by performing his composition at our Christmas concert in December 2016.

For the competition, participants had to write a choral setting for a SATB choir of a new poem called “Comes the Light” written by leading poet, broadcaster and author Roger McGough. All six shortlisted carols were recorded by the BBC Singers and broadcast on Radio 3’s Breakfast programme in December before public voting decided the winner.

The panel of judges for the competition was chaired by David Hill, Chief Conductor of the BBC Singers and included Judith Weir, Master of the Queen’s Music.

Alec recalls that “the poem was very metrical, so I thought it shouldn’t be too difficult to set to music”. He jotted down a couple of ideas and then checked them against the words. “They not only fitted quite well but seemed to emphasize some of the highs and lows in the poem, particularly the words “comes the light”. Before proceeding, I did some online searches and even posted a rough score of two themes with a MIDI realisation on Facebook, to see whether anyone else recognised them. Both drew a blank, so I cracked on. It only took a couple of days to marry up words and music, construct the choir parts and get it into a good readable format.”

Having posted his entry off in early October, the producer of Radio 3 Breakfast rang Alec on 24 November to tell him that he had been selected as one of the six finalists. Alec recalls that it was “Quite a birthday present, but it had to be kept under wraps until it was announced on 15 December, ready for the public vote”. He had to turn down an invitation to Maida Vale to hear the first rehearsals with the BBC Singers because it coincided with the Keyworth choir rehearsal just before our Christmas concert! However, Alec did get to the actual concert in Maida Vale on 17 December, which was recorded for broadcast a few days later. There he met members of the judging panel and the five other finalists (see pictures) and everyone was interviewed as part of the concert. “It was a couple of crazy weeks with further interviews with BBC Radio Leicester and the Leicester Mercury, including a photo shoot. It was a bit disappointing not to win, but a great privilege to have got into the final six. At least I avoided another early morning live interview!”