"Welcome Christmas" Carol Contest

The Composer's Datebook from American Public Media
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

On today’s date in 1998, two brand-new Christmas carols debuted in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during the “Welcome Christmas” choral concert of the Plymouth Music Series organized and 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, which in 2002 changed its name to Vocalessence. And each year, the Vocalessence “Welcome Christmas” concerts are recorded by Minnesota Public Radio for both regional broadcast and national distribution.

Who knows? Maybe these annual radio broadcasts have even become a part of YOUR holiday tradition.