Composers Datebook: “Welcome Christmas” Carol Contest
By John Birge | Your Classical
Published: Sunday, December 6
On today’s date in 1998, two brand-new Christmas carols debuted in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during the “Welcome Christmas” choral concert of VocalEssence conducted by Philip Brunelle.
The two carols, “Sweet Noel” by Joan Griffith and “The Virgin’s Cradle Hymn” by Richard Voorhaar, were the prize-winning submissions entered in a contest arranged by the Plymouth Music Series and the American Composers Forum. The idea was to inspire contemporary composers to create new carols that—who knows?—might turn out to be classics over time.
As Brunelle put it, “The Christmas carols that we love to sing and hear have a timelessness about them wrapped in their music and words. Out of submissions from all across the USA, [we] selected two that we felt captured this feeling.”
Since 1998, the “Welcome Christmas” Carol Contest has continued as an annual tradition, and hundreds of worthy carols have been submitted. Each year, two are selected and premiered in December by Brunelle’s choral ensemble. These “Welcome Christmas” concerts are recorded by American Public Media for both regional broadcast and national distribution.
Music Played in Today’s Program
Richard Voorhaar The Virgin’s Cradle Hymn Vocalessence; Philip Brunelle, cond. Clarion 939