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.

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


BFC French Trip

In July BFC returned from a very successful trip to northern France to perform the Duruflé Requiem in the beautiful Abbaye de Saint-Riquier in the Baie de Somme region. Over the last few years we have developed a very good relationship with the Orchestre de Picardie and their conductor, Arie van Beek. They all came over here in May when we performed Britten's War Requiem in this year's Brighton Festival, and this trip was a return visit by us. Saint Riquier is a lovely little town with a magnificent mediaeval abbey, where we performed.

We travelled from Brighton via the tunnel in two coaches and stayed in a hotel in Amiens. Logistically this was a slight problem, as the hotel was directly on the route of the Tour de France, and at four in the morning the workmen started noisily putting up road blocks and crowd barriers! It also meant that our coaches had to take devious routes to get us to the concert venue.

The feedback on the concert was very positive. The audience was very appreciative. The conductor said how moving he found the whole event and that we absolutely fulfilled the very high expectations he now has of us! He loves the choir, thinks we are all great fun and that we are the most responsive chorus he has worked with! The manager of the orchestra said "I simply expect nothing less than amazing from the choir, and I was not disappointed!"  Her husband said that although we did not quite reach top of the world in football, for him we are the top of the world in choirs!


Tenor on two wheels

In June 2018, BFC tenor Alastair Deighton took up the ultimate challenge: to cycle 760 miles in five days, raising funds for our 50th Anniversary Appeal. Here he is in action!

Alastair's high speed cycle tour of England and Wales started at the home of the Brighton Festival, Brighton Dome, and passed 11 more of the venues at which Brighton Festival Chorus has performed over the years.

On the first day, he battled against headwinds on the south coast but made excellent time thereafter, passing Chichester Cathedral, Portsmouth Guildhall, Southampton Guildhall, Salisbury Cathedral and Wells Cathedral.

After that, he ticked off St David's Hall in Cardiff, the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham and Westminster Cathedral. On his final day, he braved the hills of Surrey and Sussex, zooming down to the White Rock Theatre in Hastings and the Congress Theatre in Eastbourne before his triumphant return home.

"The onset of middle age can bring many interesting reactions: philately, gardening, and even, in extreme circumstances, golf," said Alastair before setting out. "Mine has been to rekindle a love for cycling formed in my late 20s by heading out on my bike as much as time allows. Not only is it a way of fighting the ever-present menace of Fat Dad Syndrome but also it gets one out and about in this beautiful country of ours.

"The BFC has sung at many fine places in Great Britain and I thought I could persuade people to part with some pennies in aid of the Chorus if I visited the farthest flung, so Portsmouth, Cardiff, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and London here I come. My plan (given fair weather and respite from a dodgy right knee) is to cover 760 miles, be in the saddle for some 55 hours, burn about 27,000 calories (yes, really...) and drink over 100 pints of water.  

"While extravagant generosity and obscene gestures are always welcome, please could I ask that you simply sponsor a penny a mile, to help BFC continue to bring great music to a very deserving corner of the south coast for another fifty years. There's even a cycling/singing joke about the perfect cadence in there somewhere but I just can’t quite find it..."

If you'd like to show your awe and appreciation for Alastair's achievement, there's still time. Please fill in this sponsorship form and return it to BFC.

Congratulations Alastair!


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 are 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, and the first of our concerts in France. Still to come are a Brighton Philharmonic concert featuring Elgar, another trip to France to perform Beethoven's 9th Symphony, 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.

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 Honours 50 Years' Service

BFC is proud to honour two members who sang in its inaugural concert 50 years ago and who are still singing with the Chorus.

Gill Evans and Marilyn Linehan were presented with commemorative certificates and flowers at the conductor's piano rehearsal for William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, which we performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Brighton Dome in May. This was the work with which the Chorus made its debut 50 years ago, also with the RPO in the Brighton Festival, but with composer William Walton conducting.


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 will be joining Barry Wordsworth to perform some of the pieces on the album in the forthcoming 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 we have planned a whole year of celebratory events, concerts and special performances to mark this event - from the 2017 Christmas Concert through to the 2018 Christmas Concert.

See our Performances > Forthcoming page for the events confirmed so far. More details will be announced over the coming months.

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