The winners of the inaugural Times Christmas Carol Competition are announced in The Times this Saturday, November 12th. The competition, which was launched in June and closed in September, attracted more than 700 entries. Entrants, who were aged from 16 to their late eighties, were asked either to compose a new carol (words and music) or to compose a new setting to a carol out of copyright.
After much deliberation the judges - David Hill, musical director of the Bach Choir, Richard Morrison, Chief Music Critic, The Times, and Andrew Riley, writer and editor, The Times Register - decided to split the prize between Pippa Cleary, for her original composition "In the Snow", and Stuart Thompson, for his new setting of "The Holly and the Ivy".
David Hill said: "It was so very difficult to decide between so many excellent entries. The standard was very high and the amount of work so many put in to their entry was extraordinary. Clearly there is a profound respect for the tradition of singing carols. The UK leads the world in producing new music for choirs at Christmas and the competition confirmed this for me."
Pippa Cleary lives in London, is aged 25, and runs Pippa's Poppets, leading movement and music classes for babies and toddlers at venues across Central London. She is a composer, singer-songwriter, singing teacher and musical director as well as an entrepreneur.
Stuart Thompson, 41, is director of music at Caterham School, a co-ed independent school in Surrey. He was previously director of music at Leeds Cathedral, where he formed the cathedral girls' choir. He also composed and arranged pieces for the cathedral's choirs.
The full scores of the winning carols will be published on the Times website at: www.thetimes.co.uk/christmascarol, and also in our iPad and Android editions.
The winning carols will be be performed by the Bach Choir at its Christmas concert, Carols at Cadogan, at Cadogan Hall in Chelsea on December 8th. The concert is being held in aid of the charity Action Medical Research.