BFC Carol Competition

A chance to have an original carol performed by one of the UK’s finest choirs and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Brighton Festival Chorus is delighted to announce a carol competition for choral composers. We will premiere the winning carol at our 2018 Christmas Concert, featuring the RPO.

Prize: The winning composer will receive £100, plus the offer of having their carol orchestrated by renowned composers Morgan Pochin for our Christmas Concert at Brighton Dome on Sunday 9 December 2018. The composer will also receive two tickets to the concert.

Closing date: Monday 22 October 2018.

What we're looking for:

  • Your carol must be a new and original work which has not previously been performed.
  • It should be no more than three minutes long.
  • Your text must be:
    • Christmas-related
    • out of copyright or used with the written permission of the author
    • suitable for a family audience
    • non-political.
  • Your music can be any of the following:
    • melody only
    • SATB
    • a cappella
    • with a basic accompaniment (for judging and rehearsal only)
    • orchestrated for concert orchestra (in which case, separate choir and orchestra parts must be provided).
  • Your carol should be written in musical notation and delivered as a PDF file or hard copy.
  • The stave size for your orchestral parts (if any) should be at least 7.5mm.
  • A recording (MP3: keyboard / midi) would also be helpful but is not essential.
  • The winning carol will either be performed a cappella or with orchestra. If the winning composer opts to have their carol orchestrated by Morgan Pochin, or to orchestrate their carol themselves, BFC must receive the full orchestration by 20 November 2018.
  • Composers who wish to, can orchestrate for any or all of the following: strings, double woodwind, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, two percussion, harp, organ.


  • Open to all. No entry fee.
  • Only one carol per composer. Multiple entries are not permitted.
  • If you're a BFC member, please use a pseudonym to prevent any suspicion of bias in the judging.
  • The decision of the judging panel is final.
  • All entrants who provide an email address will be notified of the result by email on 14 November 2018.
  • If you submit your carol by post and would like it to be returned, please include a stamped addressed envelope.
  • It is the responsibility of the composers to ensure there are no copyright infringements.
  • All submitted carols remain the copyright of the composers.

How to enter:

or by post to:

Compose A Carol
Brighton Festival Chorus
c/o 11 Charleston Rd
Eastbourne BN21 1SE

  • Closing date: Monday 22 October 2018.

We have already received nearly 70 entries, so don't delay!

Sponsored by Howarth of London ​​​​​​​


Video of Last Year's Christmas Concert



BFC at 50!

Brighton Festival Chorus was founded for the 1968 Brighton Festival by its first Music Director, Laszlo Heltay. The choir's first performance, Walton's Belshazzar's Feast, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by the composer himself, brought overnight success. 2018 therefore marks our 50th birthday, so what could be more fitting than to have performed Belshazzar's Feast once again in this year's Brighton Festival, some 517 concerts later!

To celebrate our anniversary year we have been engaging in a whole series of celebratory events, concerts and special performances. So far we have performed a concert of Easter music, two major concerts in the Brighton Festival, a concert in France, and a Brighton Philharmonic concert. Still to come are another performance of Britten's War Requiem (this time in Coventry Cathedral), Verdi's Requiem in the Royal Albert Hall, and our family Christmas concert in the Brighton Dome.

See our Performances > Forthcoming page to find out what we are performing, where, and when.

You might also have a look at our  Performances > Archive page to see what we have been doing for the last fifty years!

Our Music Director, James Morgan, said "The 50th anniversary is a marvellous opportunity to lay down a marker for where we are now as a chorus, and where we want to be in the future - creating performances of the highest class with fantastic orchestral partners, often presented in a new and innovative way - inspiring new audiences to engage with our work."

Photograph: Brighton Festival Chorus by Summer Dean


BFC@50 Reunion

On 22 February 1968 a group of singers congregated upstairs in the Gas Showroom in Church Street in Brighton, met a Hungarian Chorus Master called Laszlo Heltay, sang through Mozart’s Kyrie in D minor - and thus Brighton Festival Chorus was born!

The old Gas Showroom is now Côte Brasserie, and on 22 February this year a group of over 40 founder members and other early members gathered together in that very room to celebrate 50 years of the BFC, to reminisce, meet old friends and swap anecdotes. In the intervening years quite a few original members have died, and we have lost touch with many others, but a good representative group of people did answer the invitation. Compared with the photos of the youthful choir we used to be, everyone present had, unsurprisingly, aged. However, listening to the conversations, it was obvious that the enthusiasm for music had not dimmed, and the memories were still bright. As Laszlo used to say - VE GO ON!

You can see a video of the gathering here.


Elgar Recording

Back in September 2016 and March 2017 we joined Barry Wordsworth and the BBC Concert Orchestra in Watford Colosseum for two recording sessions of Elgar's Music for Chorus and Orchestra.

The recording, entitled Ecce Sacerdos Magnus, is now available on SOMM Records (catalogue no: SOMM0267). It features a number of lesser known pieces by Elgar, which span 26 years of his creative output and chart the development of his prowess in setting the voice.

Barry Wordsworth said "I have worked with Brighton Festival Chorus for many years. The fine performances they gave were a wonderful example of the musicality and commitment which have been a hallmark of their work during the past five decades."

You can read reviews of the recording here:

We joined Barry Wordsworth to perform some of the pieces on the album in a Brighton Philharmonic concert on October 14.

Cover image: Mountain Scene by Albert Bierstadt (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)



Churchill in Coventry


2018 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Brighton Festival Chorus, and our year of celebratory events, concerts and special performances continues right through to the 2018 Christmas Concert.

See our Performances > Forthcoming page for the remaining events.

To mark the centenary of the end of the First World War we are involved in two performances of the War Requiem by Benjamin Britten. The first of these was on Saturday May 12 in this year's Brighton Festival. On Wednesday November 14 we will perform it again in Coventry Cathedral, where the first performance took place on 30 May 1962. The War Requiem was commissioned to mark the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral, which was built after the original 14th century structure was destroyed in a WW2 bombing raid. We are delighted to be joining the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and our old friend, conductor Paul Leddington Wright.

Our long-planned tour of some of the major cities of the Somme region in France to perform Britten's War Requiem was sadly cancelled following the Orchestre National de Lille's sudden decision to pull out. However, our Artistic Manager, Gill Kay, secured an alternative booking for us. We performed the Duruflé Requiem in July 2018 as part of the Festival de St Riquier in the Baie de Somme. As the piece was written during the Second World War, it seemed to maintain the wartime theme.

Photographs: Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the ruined nave of Coventry Cathedral by Captain Horton, War Office official photographer; Coventry Cathedral by David Iliff