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A New Carol for the King’s College Choir

Dec. 04, 2017

A New Carol for the King’s College Choir

For thirty-five years, beginning with the tenure of Music Director Stephen Cleobury, the Choir of King's College has commissioned a new carol for their annual Christmas Eve Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols service--a widely anticipated event broadcast around the world.  This year, acclaimed composer Huw Watkins was asked to write the new piece. Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams chose the setting: part of the welsh Plygain tune, Carol Eliseus.


For Watkins, who is Welsh, but does not speak the language, the commission was a welcome challenge.  He notes, “My mother (a native speaker) has helped me with the sounds and stresses of the words, and I feel like setting this language has unlocked an indefinable Welshness in my music. I wanted to write something pure and somehow artless, and all the time I've had that glorious acoustic in my head.”


The King’s College Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols will be broadcast to millions internationally on Christmas Eve, December 24, beginning at 3 PM GMT via BBC World Service and other public broadcasters, as well as on BBC Radio 4 in the UK.


For more information on Huw Watkins, visit